Srinagar/Shopian: The situation in the restive south Kashmir’s Shopian district remained tense on Monday after police recovered two more bodies, raising the death toll in last night’s firing incident to six.
“Two more bodies were recovered in Shopian district this morning,” a police spokesperson said.
Police recovered the body of another militant, identified as Ashiq Hussain Bhat of Lashkar-e-Taiba, seven kilometers from Pahnoo where the Army had fired upon two vehicles when ‘they tried to flee from a Mobile Vehicle Check Post’. They also fired on the Army and policemen, officials said. Bhat was a resident of Rakh Karpan.
Besides this, body of a civilian — Gowhar Ahmed Lone of Chitragam in Shopian — was recovered from another vehicle near the firing incident.
Gowhar was found dead on the wheels of his Wagon-R vehicle bearing registration number JK01Q- 1723. Lone, who was pursuing M.P.Ed at Nagpur University in Maharashtra, had four bullets pumped into his body.
The Army alleged that he was an over ground worker of militant groups which locals and relatives of the deceased refuted.
The family of Gowhar claimed that he has no FIR against him and he was never arrested in any case.
“He was a cricket lover and used to play cricket in a local cricket ground,” Waqar, his cousin said.
Commenting on the Sunday late evening encounter a defence spokesman said that “on 04 March 2018, at 7 pm, an Army Mobile Vehicle Check Post (MVCP) was deployed along road Trenz- Pinzoora near village Pohanu. At around 8 pm in the evening, two speeding vehicles were seen approaching the MVCP location from the direction of village Trenz. The stops deployed, signaled the vehicles to stop, however both the vehicles continued to move. At this point, when a search light was flashed towards the approaching vehicles, heavy firing came from both the vehicles. Own troops, in self defence, responded the same with fire. In the ensuing gun fight, one militant who was firing from one of the vehicles was hit and he fell off the vehicle and the vehicle veered off the road towards the nala and the second vehicle sped off,” the army said in a statement. However, the locals refuted the claims of the army and said that had they been OGWs as claimed by the army, they would have been under the police investigation.
“Show us a single FIR or any arrest against him. Give us a single proof that he was working as an OGW,” Bashir Ahmad Khan, father of Muhammad Suhail told ‘Kashmir Vision’.
Meanwhile, the army added that later during the search, the body of militant was recovered, who was identified as Amir Ahmad Malik resident of village Harmen.
“He was part of banned organisation Lashkar-e-Toiba and was active since July 2017. War like stores including one AK-74, 3 magazines and 88 rounds were also recovered from the dead militant. Three more dead bodies were found in the vehicle during the search. These individuals were accompanying the militant,” the army statement added.
The army statement said that at around 9 am on 5 March 2018, body of another militant, identified as Ashiq Hussain Bhat, resident of Rakh Kapar, of Lashkar-e-Toiba, was found from apple orchards of village Saidpura, who is also linked with the same chain of events at village Pohanu.
Meanwhile, a police spokesperson said that bodies of the others were handed over to their legal heirs.
“Weapons have been seized and legal proceedings initiated,” he said.
Meanwhile, the two militants and four youths were laid to rest in their respective villages amid sobs and tears.
Sohail Ahmad Wagay was laid to rest at Trenz, Shahnawas Wagay at Moolu, Trenz, Shahid Khan at Malik Gund and Gowhar Ahmad Lone at Moolu, Trenz. The two militants Amir Malik of Harmain and Ashiq Hussain Bhat of Rakh Kapran were also buried in their native villages amid pro-freedom slogans.
Thousands of people participated in the several rounds of funerals for the slain youths and militants. Militants also offered a gun salute during funeral prayers of Ashiq Bhat at Kapran, witnesses said.
Mohammad Abbass, the brother of slain youth Sohail Ahmad Wagay (22), told that Sohail called him at 7:24 pm. “He told me he has reached Pehlipora after dropping our mother where our sister resides.”
“After about half an hour, we heard the shocking news about his killing along with two other youth. The army is telling lies that he or two other youth were over ground workers (OGWs),” he said.
While bodies of three youth Shahnawaz, Shahid, Sohail and a militant Amir were found immediately, the body another youth Gowhar was found on the steering wheel of the vehicle (Wagon-R JK01Q-1723) he was driving. The body of the LeT militant Ashiq was found few kilometers away in an apple orchard at Saidipora. Police said he (Ashiq) was “part of the chain of the incident at Pahnoo” village.
A police officer said, “Army in its version has stated that there was an ambush and as the vehicle (JK04D-7353) was asked to stop, there was fire which was retaliated, leading to the killing of four persons travelling in it. The vehicle belonged to Sohail Wagay. The militant killed in the shootout has been identified as Mohammad Amir Malik son of Bashir Ahmad Malik of Harmain Shopian.”
Notably, police filed an FIR under No. 54/ 2018 u/s 307 RPC, 7/27 I A-Act with regard to the incident and started further investigations into it.
“The case was registered after the army unit filed a report with regard to the incident,” official sources said.