Srinagar: Families of three persons claimed to be militants killed in a gunfight with a joint team of police and government forces at Hokersar on the city outskirts of Srinagar staged a protest, asserting that they were innocents.
The families also said that the killed youth were not militants and two of the three youth killed had left their homes yesterday only for some work.
“Yesterday at 10 a.m., he had tea with me and I swear about it. I don’t know where he was brought down from Sumo. Is this what is going to happen in Kashmir. Is this democracy? Is this the governor Raj? Kill me. Why you killed him. He was a student,” said Bashir Ahmad Ganie, grandfather of Aijaz Maqbool, one of the men killed.
“Why was he killed? Was he a terrorist?” he asked, adding, “(Aijaz) is the son of a policeman Mohammad Maqbool Ganie who is posted in Ganderbal,” the elderly man was quoted as saying by a local news gathering agency Global News Service (GNS). “Tell us why our son was killed. If they don’t, let them send task force and kill us all at home,” the elderly man said.
Besides, Aijaz Mushtaq from Putrigam Pulwama, families of two others—Ather Mushtaq Wani (class 11th student as per family) son of Mushtaq Ahmad Wani from Bellow Pulwama and Zubair Ahmad Lone (carpenter) from Turkewagan Shopain—also protested and claimed they are innocents. Police could not be immediately contacted for the comments even as on Twitter it said that three militants were killed in the gunfight. The names were revealed by the families and have not been officially revealed by the police so far.
Reportedly also, bodies of all three have been taken to Baramulla for burial with their family members allowed to participate in their last rites.
According to a local news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), the families said that slain Athar and Junaid from South Kashmir’s Pulwama district were innocent and had left home yesterday to get admission in a tuition point here for the Class 12th session. “Both are students and appeared in the Class 11th examinations,” cousin brother of Athar told KNO. The families demanded justice and appealed the higher ups to look into the matter.
Speaking to KNO, a police officer said the slain militants were repeatedly offered surrender but they refused. “One of them lobbed grenade at the outset. Two of the slain militants were hardcore militants with one of them being a cousin brother of slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Rayees Kachroo,” he said, wishing not to be named.
He said that one AK-47 rifle, and two pistols were recovered from the slain. “Third one may have been a new militant recruit and families may not have been knowing about his activities,” he said. The official said intelligence inputs suggest that the trio were tasked to target forces convoy on the Srinagar-Baramulla highway and that’s why they choose a location close to the highway to take shelter—( with inputs from KNO and GNS)