Jammu: PDP President Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday led a strong protest here against the civilian killings by security forces, and demanded handing over of bodies of the deceased to their families.
The former chief minister said since the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) has been in force, there has been no accountability for the killings of the innocents.
Four people, including two civilians, were killed in a gunfight by security forces on Monday evening during an anti-militancy operation.
According to the police, Haider, a Pakistani militant, and his local associate Mohammad Amir, along with two civilians – Altaf Bhat and Mudassir Gul – were killed in the encounter in Hyderpora locality, where an illegal call centre and a militant hideout were allegedly being run.
Inspector-General of Police (Kashmir range) Vijay Kumar claimed that Gul was an active associate of militants and was running the call centre on premises owned by Bhat, who was killed in cross-firing with the militants.
He expressed regret over Bhat’s death but said he would be counted among the “harbourers” of militants.
Mohammad Amir’s father Latief Magray, a resident of Gool area of Ramban district, has refuted the official claim that his son was a militant.
Holding a placard that read Stop killing us, probe Hyderpora killings, end impunity and handover bodies to families, Mehbooba, along with party activists and leaders, staged a protest against these killings outside the party’s Gandhi Nagar headquarters.
A strong posse of policemen stopped the protesters from moving towards the main road.
Mehbooba told reporters that the families of the slain civilians are holding protests in Srinagar and demanding handover of their bodies.
“This cruel government is not even handing over the bodies after killing people. They (BJP) want to convert this nation of Gandhi, Nehru, and Ambedkar into a country of Godse. What else can I say?” the PDP leader said.
Asked about the IGP’s claim of there being digital evidence against those killed, she said: If they had prior evidence, why did the police not arrest them, as they have been doing on a daily basis.
“Whenever anybody gets killed in their firing, they dub him an Over Ground worker, and that is wrong. Since the AFSPA has been in force, there has been no accountability and no one’s been answerable,” she said.
“They are innocent civilians and their families are denied even performing their last rites,” she added.
Referring to a previous incident of fake encounter in which three youths were killed, she said the security agencies made the claim of having digital evidence even then, but the reality is that they have no evidence.
Three orchard labourers were killed in a staged encounter in Amshipora village of Shopian on July 18, 2020.
In another incident this January, Athar Mushtaq, a class 11 student, was killed along with two other youths in Lawaypora, Srinagar. Mushtaq’s father disputed the claim that his son was a militant and demanded an SIT probe into the matter.
Mehbooba is scheduled to return to Srinagar later in the day after completing her five-day tour of Jammu. PTI