Srinagar: The army’s account of the circumstances leading to the death of a porter, Liaqat Ali, in Handwara on Wednesday has raised many a question.
This is the army’s version of the story:
“On the intervening night of 24/25 May 2016, a joint search operation was undertaken by the army and JKP, based on the specific intelligence inputs regarding movement of some terrorists in the area of Watsar forest about 12 KM west of Handwara. Liaquat Ali of Nagni, Wadar Payeen, village, who has been working as a porter with the army, accompanied the search party
At about five AM on 25 May, the column of security forces came under fire which was immediately retaliated. After a brief exchange of fire, the area was searched during which Liaqat Ali was found injured. After administrating immediate first aid, the individual was evacuated by foot to the Handwara-Bunawadar road head but he had unfortunately succumbed to the injuries. His body was handed over to police at 6:30 AM.
An inquiry has been instituted to establish in detail the possible circumstances leading to the death of Liaquat Ali. Since the deceased was working with the army, we are committed to providing all possible assistance including authorised entitlements to his family.”
Kashmir Reader asked defence spokesman Colonel NN Joshi a few questions:
Was the porter at the forefront of the army team that was searching for “terrorists” because since he had been hit by six bullets, it appears that he took the brunt of the attack?
Was the porter armed? Was he wearing a bullet-proof vest because during a search operation against militants, there are high chances of being hit?
If the attack had been so sudden that a man took six bullets, was any other soldier injured? Since reports do not mention injury to soldiers, why was only the porter killed?
Was the porter wearing army fatigues or was he in civvies? For what purpose was he part of the operation?
Was there any other porter accompanying the army?
Colonel Joshi replied, “I cannot reveal anything at this moment and enquiry has been set up to investigate into the cause of his death.”
Ali is survived by his pregnant wife and one-year-old son. His cousin Mohamad Abdullah Chatwal, who is a political leader, has said that he suspects the army killed him.