The Jammu and Kashmir administration has ordered a magisterial probe into Monday’s controversial encounter in Hyderpora area of Srinagar. Four persons, including a Pakistani militant, were killed in the incident.
Lieutenant governor Sinha said in Srinagar that an additional district magistrate level officer would head the inquiry and the administration would take suitable action as soon as the report is submitted in a time-bound manner.
“J&K administration reiterates its commitment of protecting lives of innocent civilians and it will ensure that there is no injustice,” the office of the J&K LG tweeted. Later in the evening, the administration exhumed bodies of Altaf Ahmed Bhat and Mudasir Gul from a graveyard in Handwara area of northern Kashmir. The bodies would be handed over to the families. The officials have asked the families to conduct the funeral in the presence of a restricted gathering. Restrictions were imposed and contingents of police and paramilitary forces have been deployed around the residences of the two victims to ensure there is no mass protest.
Factions of Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, under house arrest, and Masrat Alam Bhat, in jail, in emailed statements have called for a strike on Friday. The J&K High Court Bar Association protested in the court premises on Thursday and called for a strike on Friday across Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.
Political parties across the spectrum took out protest marches demanding justice and return of the bodies of civilians killed in the encounter. Former CM Omar Abdullah sat on a protest march in a government park near his residence. Another former chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti, was put under house arrest. The J&K People’s Conference also took out a protest.
The encounter took place at a shopping complex owned by Bhat, in Hyderpora area on the highway in Srinagar. The family members of Bhat, Gul and Aamir Magray have alleged that they were civilians and used as “human shields and killed in cold blood.”
Bhat ran a hardware store on the ground floor, Gul was his tenant on first floor running a construction business office. Aamir was Gul’s office assistant. The police claim that four persons killed in the operation included two militants — a Pakistani, Haider and Aamir — while accusing Gul of being a top militant associate who provided logistical support to them.