Mehbooba Mufti seeks impartial and swift probe into Lawaypora encounter

PDP president and former J&K chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti on Friday wrote a letter to Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor, Manoj Sinha seeking an impartial and swift probe into the killing of three youths in Lawaypora encounter on the outskirts of Srinagar city and also demanded that their bodies be returned to the families.

Three youths from south Kashmir were killed on Tuesday inside a house by the security forces in a joint operation, while police and army claimed they were militants, relatives claim they were students.

In her letter to L-G, Mehbooba Mufti said that justice can be only served when impartial and swift investigation is done in the case.

“Three boys, the youngest being all of 17 years old, were killed, in what the family has alleged to be staged gunfight. The encounter has come close on the heels of an enquiry report that held an army captain guilty and responsible for the fake encounter at Amshipora (in) Shopian. Again, the three victims now established as innocent through an investigation, were killed and dubbed as militants,” Mufti said in her letter.

The letter further said. “You and I may not agree in most political matters that concern J&K but I am certain we agree that such incidents bring disrepute to the armed forces and are a grave violation of human rights.”

Former J&K chief minister said that while the J&K administration is apprehensive about returning the bodies to the families, this “callous” decision will only exacerbate their sense of loss and pain. “One hopes that you will rethink this decision and allow them to get closure. A mother who grieves the sudden and tragic death of her beloved son shouldn’t be deprived of the last chance to see his face,” reads the letter.

The security forces on Wednesday had said that three local militants were killed in an encounter at Lawaypora on the outskirts of the Srinagar city.

Also Read: Row intensifies over Srinagar encounter

Families of the slain, however, rebutted the claim and said the youth killed in the encounter were civilians. The families also held a protest outside the police control room in Srinagar.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, General Officer Commanding (GoC) Kilo Force, H S Sahi had said that the militants were planning to attack the security forces on the national highway and different agencies were getting inputs about the same.

“We had been getting inputs about the militants’ movement on the national highway. The operation was launched last evening after getting inputs that militants were inside a house close to the national highway. They were asked to surrender, however they responded with firing and the operation was suspended for the night and when operation was resumed again in the morning, they were again given an offer to surrender, however, they again started firing and hurled grenades which gave an indication they had no intention to surrender.”

Three youth killed in the encounter are identified as Zubair Ahmad from Turkawangam, Shopian, Ajaz Maqbool and Athar Mushtaq from Putrigam, Pulwama .Their families claimed that they were students who had left their homes yesterday before they were picked up and killed in a ‘staged’ encounter.

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