Chatroo encounter: Now police say the duo was killed in cross-fire

Army continue to uphold claim, approaches families of deceased for negotiation

Sheikh Nasir Hussain, NAK 

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Kishtwar : Contrary to the claims of the Army that two Hizb militants were gunned down by it in Chatroo on Friday last, Police FIR with regard to the incident has mentioned the deceased as civilians, who were killed in the cross firing between militants and security forces.

Police FIR No 20/07 lodged in Kishtwar police station under section 7/27 Arms Act and 302, 307 RPC dated July 6, 2007 mentions that two persons Muhammad Ashraf son of Muhammad Ramzan of Rahalthal and Muhammad Sultan son of Abdul Gafoor of Kudyal Chatroo were killed in cross firing.

It was reliably learnt that the army and police was under tremendous pressure since the day of incident as people came on the road and staged protest demonstrations against the security forces alleging that the two persons killed in the encounter were civilians.

Though the army claims that the duo was Hizbul Mujahideen militants, police makes a contrary stand. A police officer at the time of incident had clarified that there was no record of the deceased persons regarding their involvement in militancy related activities.

Well informed sources told News Agency of Kashmir that police refused to buy the claim of the army regarding the killing and it registered the case as per its own inputs. The FIR, copy of which was available with NAK, reads that army on specific information launched a search operation near Chatroo area during which militants fired upon the troops.

"The fire was returned and in the encounter between militants and security forces two persons Muhammad Ashraf son of Muhammad Ramzan of Rahalthal and Muhammad Sultan son of Abdul Gafoor of Kudyal Chatroo were killed", the FIR reads further.

Sources said that a team of senior army officials today visited Chatroo and held a closed door meeting with the family members of the deceased and some prominent citizens. The family was asked to change its statement and they would be compensated for the killings, added the sources.

"We were told that army would pay rupees fifty thousands at the initial stage to each family, while Rs 1.50 lakh would be paid at the later stage if the family admits that the deceased were involved in militancy related incidents", Muhammad Ismail, member Panchayat committee, who was present in the meeting, said.

Expressing shock, Former MLA of the constituency Qazi Jalal-ud-Din said that one of the deceased persons was a student and the duo was returning back home after fishing when they were shot dead by the security forces. He demanded independent probe into the gruesome killings.

However, defence spokesman Col Goswami when contacted said that army stood by its stand that the slain persons were HM militants. He said, "Some arms and ammunition were also recovered from their possession which strengthens our stand".

When his attention was drawn towards the police FIR, the spokesman said, "We are not concerned what FIR police has registered". He also denied that any negotiation was going on between army and family of slain militants. (NAK)