Imtiyaz Ahmad, 21, wanted to continue his studies after clearing his class 12 exam but did not have enough money to do so. With not much work available in the remote mountainous region of Rajouri, he left this summer for Shopian in Kashmir Valley to work as a labourer to earn enough money to secure admission to a college back home.
Ahmad did not live to see his dream of becoming the first person in his family to have a college degree come true. He was among the three men killed in a staged gunfight and passed off as terrorists in July. The two other men–Abrar Ahmad, 26 and Mohammad Ibrar, 18–were Imtiyaz Ahmad’s cousins.
The Army initially said the three were “terrorists”. It later said an inquiry has prima facie brought out evidence indicating “during the operation [in which the three were killed], powers vested under the AFSPA [Armed Forces Special Powers Act] 1990 were exceeded and the dos and don’ts of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) as approved by the Hon’ble Supreme Court have been contravened”. The army added consequently, the “competent disciplinary authority has directed initiation of disciplinary proceedings under the Army Act against those found prima-facie answerable”.
The Jammu & Kashmir police last week said the DNA samples of the three have matched with their family members in Rajouri.
“My son, who had passed class 12th this year, wanted to pursue his studies and had gone to Shopian to work as a labourer and collect enough money to get admission to the Rajouri Degree College,” said Ahmad’s mother, Shamim Akhter, 40, over the phone from her Dhar Sakiri village in Rajouri.
She added she wants justice. “Those who killed my son and nephews [Abrar Ahmed and Mohammad Ibrar] should also meet the same fate. The barbarians did not allow them to have food and picked them up from their rented room…before killing them…” Akhter said the whole truth about their killing should be made public and the perpetrators should be hanged. She added they are yet to get any compensation.
Lal Hussain, an uncle of the three men, said they stand vindicated after the Army’s inquiry. “They were poor labourers, who were branded terrorists and killed for rewards and awards.” He demanded that the “source” who branded the three young men as terrorists to the Army for “rewards and awards” be exposed. “I demand that those involved in the fake encounter and the contact who branded my nephews as terrorists and passed on the information security forces be punished under the law.”
Two men believed to be informers of security forces were arrested in connection with the staged gunbattle on Wednesday.
Rajouri deputy commissioner Mohammad Nazir Sheikh said he has received no instructions for the compensation yet. “Nothing has come to us as of now but whatever under rules is required shall be done.”