Srinagar, Mar 6: Killings of six youth, including two militants, in south Kashmir’s Shopian district have created a furore in the Valley. Army after dubbing the three youth killed in the shootout as Over Ground Workers retracted from its statement saying that slain youth were civilians and their links with the militants would be investigated.
Addressing a press conference at Balpora, here 12-sector Commander Brigadier Harbeer Singh and Colonel D S Negi of 44-Rashtriya Riffles said, “No doubt they were civilians but investigations will reveal their role with militants.”
Soon after the killings on Sunday the army had said the three killed youth were over ground workers of militants.
An analyst while talking to Precious Kashmir said, “There are loop holes in the army statement. If the slain youth were OGWs then they should have been carrying the arms with them. Only one AK-47 was recovered from the spot.”
He said, “It indicates the three other youth, who according to the Army, were travelling in the first vehicle were unarmed. The body of another youth who was killed nearly 250-metres away from the spot too was unarmed as no weapon was recovered from his possession.”
The analyst said, “Proper investigations only can bring the truth to fore. It needs to be ascertained what actually led to their killings.”
Locals are claiming that civilians were killed “ten minutes” after the shootout and terming the killings of civilians as “cold blooded murder.”
A Kashmir watcher said, “On January 27 this year four civilians were killed in army firing in Gonowpora village in Shopian district. That time Army had said that soldiers fired in self defence as the stone-pelters were about to lynch a Junior Commissioned Officer.”
Soon after the killings The Jammu and Kashmir government had lodged a FIR against the Army. However, the FIR was challenged in Supreme Court. The Apex court stayed the FIR.
The Kashmir watcher said, “In January the J&K government got FIR registered against the Army but this time around no FIR was registered in this incident. It seems J&K government doesn’t want to annoy the people sitting in New Delhi as last time around Ministry of Home Affairs had reprimanded the J&K government for acting against the Army.”
Opposition parties, including J&K Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) said that “people are not satisfied with army version”.
Terming the killing of civilians as painful, the Congress spokesperson said, “Army needs to clear the doubts as the people of Shopian believe that those killed apart from a militant were innocent and they were killed under the garb of encounter.”
“As the killing of innocent people cannot be justified by anything, there has to be a probe into this unfortunate incident to ascertain the truth behind these killing. The killing spree in south Kashmir is responsible for deteriorating situation and government cannot escape the responsibility of loss of lives,” he added.
The National Conference spokesperson said, “Killings cannot be justified with an arbitrary, unproven pronouncement of the youth being OGWs (militant over ground workers)”.
“The Shopian killings cannot be justified with an arbitrary, unproven pronouncement of the youth being OGWs. The circumstances and details should be probed and made public by the state government,” he said.