Gravediggers, local policemen identify graves in Baramulla graveyard, bodies taken in ambulance to Rajouri
Baramulla: The bodies of three labourers from Rajouri district of Jammu region, wrongly killed by the army in an operation in Amshipora village in Shopian district on July 18 this year, were exhumed and handed over to their families on Saturday morning, officials and eyewitness said.
They said teams of police headed by senior officers along with some family members of the trio reached the Gantamulla Colony Baramulla graveyard where they were buried. The bodies were exhumed and handed over to the family members/ relatives. The bodies were later shifted to their district Rajouri in an ambulance along with family members.
Before exhuming the bodies, the gravediggers who had buried the bodies on that day were also called as well as the local policemen from police station Sheeri who maintain record of all militants buried in the graveyard. They and the gravediggers identified the graves and then exhumed the bodies. An eyewitness said that the bodies were found in good condition.
Official sources said that on Friday, all the legal formalities, including permissions from the both the district magistrates of Rajouri and Baramulla, were completed and the bodies were exhumed in presence of a magistrate.
The bodies will now be buried at the native village of the slain men in the presence of a magistrate.
On July 18, the army claimed to have killed three unidentified militants in Amshipora village in Shopian district in a brief encounter and also claimed that it recovered large quantity of arms and ammunition from the possession of the slain militants. The bodies of the three men were later taken to Baramulla where police authorities buried them in the Gantamulla colony graveyard which is by the river bank along the Srinagar-Muzafarabad highway close to the police station.
The funeral prayers of the trio were performed by some locals and policemen like for the other militants, mostly foreign ones, who are routinely buried in this graveyard.
About three weeks after the encounter, three families from Rajouri district came forward to claim that they had identified from photographs the slain as their kin – Abrar Ahmed, 25, Imtiyaz Ahmed, 20, and Mohammed Ibrar, 16. The families said the three youths were labourers who had gone to work in Shopian where they had rented a room in the village. The families said they had not heard from them since July 17.
On September 18, the army in a statement had admitted that the Shopian operation had exceeded powers under AFSAP and also contravened the dos and don’ts of the chief of army staff approved by the Supreme Court.
“The inquiry has brought out certain prima facie evidence indicating that during the operation, powers vested under the AFSPA 1990 were exceeded and the Do’s and Don’ts of chief of army staff as approved by the Supreme Court have been contravened. Consequently, the competent disciplinary authority has directed to initiate disciplinary proceedings under the army act against those found prima-facie answerable,” the army statement on September 18 said.
The police later took samples of the family members of the three labourers and matched them with the DNA of the slain men. The police later accepted that the trio were not militants but labourers as claimed by their families.
On September 30, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir Vijay Kumar said that as the DNA samples had matched with those of the families, the bodies will be exhumed and handed over to the kin.
The police also arrested two civilians in Shopian who had informed the army unit on that day about the presence of a group of militants in a rented room, for money.
It remains to be seen what punishment the army metes out to its troops who killed three innocent labourers and claimed that they recovered arms and ammunition from their possession.