“No one would question innocence of our kids now,” says family, after Army admits 3 killed in Shopian encounter are missing Rajouri youth

Mother, Safin, in the middle, and cousins of Abrar. | Photo by Ayushi Malik

By Ayushi Malik, TwoCircles.net

Jammu: Reacting to the Army’s statement on Friday that they had found ‘prima facie’ evidence that its armed forces exceeded their powers vested under Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) during the encounter in Shopian on July 18 in which three Rajouri youth were killed, the family members of the slain youth said the with the Army’s statement, “no one would question the innocence of our kids.”

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The families demanded the return of the dead bodies of three youth.

“We knew from day one that they (the slain youth) are our children. Now no one would question their innocence,” Saleem, the cousin brother of one of the slain youth Mohd. Abrar told TwoCircles.net over the phone.

“We demand that whoever has killed them should be hanged to death and dead bodies of our kids should be handed over to us as soon as possible),” he added.

The Army on Friday admitted that the three unidentified militants killed in Amishipora, Shopian encounter on July 18 were three missing labourers namely Imtiyaz Ahmed, Abrar Ahmed and Mohd Ibrar- as claimed by their families in August. The army said that the inquiry has found ‘prima facie’ that ‘during the operation, powers vested under AFSPA 1990 were exceeded and has ‘directed disciplinary proceedings under the Army Act against those found ‘answerable”.

A court of inquiry was ordered by the Army into the Shopian encounter after families of the three young men from Rajouri alleged that their ‘innocent’ kin, who had gone to Shopian to work as labourers, have been killed in a staged encounter.

In an official statement, the Army also stated that ‘the Do’s and Don’ts of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) as approved by the Hon’ble Supreme Court have been contravened.’

‘The evidence collected by the inquiry has prima-facie indicated that the three unidentified terrorists killed in Op Amshipora were Imtiyaz Ahmed, Abrar Ahmed and Mohd Ibrar, who hailed from Rajouri,” read the official statement.

The Army’s statement came on the same day the family of three slain youth travelled from Rajouri to Kashmir to have their statements recorded before the Victor Force Headquarters at Awantipora in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

Confirming to TwoCircles.net that they met Army officials in Kashmir, Saleem said that the army officials assured them, “that they are investigating the case and whosoever will be responsible will be severely punished.”

Saleem said that they are happy with the fact that their children have been ‘martyred’. “However, the dead bodies of our kids should be returned to us immediately without further delay or we would protest for the same,” he adds.

Expressing concerns over the delayed DNA reports, Naseeb, cousin of Abrar added, “Our whole village was going to protest on 17 Sep but we stopped after we were assured that DNA results will be out soon.”

The DNA samples of family members of three were collected from Rajouri on August 13 to match them with the ‘unidentified militants’ killed in the Shopian encounter, however, the results have not been out yet.

The families of the three have claimed they were promised that the results will be out in a week. However, prolonged delay has angered them.

The Army in their statement said that DNA report is awaited and ‘their involvement with terrorism or related activities is under investigation by the police.’

“Whoever is responsible for the killing of our children should be punished severely and also families should be compensated financially. But our foremost demand is that their dead bodies should be handed over to us. Now that we can’t get our kids back we should be given justice,” said Naseeb.

Earlier this month, the families had written to J&K LG Manoj Sinha to intervene in the matter, requesting him to not further delay the DNA report results and the dead bodies of the three relatives be returned to their families. LG Sinha had assured the families that justice will be delivered to them.

Speaking on the delay in the DNA report results, father of Abrar Ahmad Mohammad Yousaf said that, “the delay is causing them great pain”

“It has been more than a month now. I guarantee that those are our kids,” he added.