Fake Encounter Sparks Uproar In Kashmir29 May 2010
Srinagar: Four persons were injured in north Kashmir's Baramulla district on Saturday when thousands of people, taking the bodies of three youth killed in a fake encounter, clashed with the police. Eyewitnesses said this morning the mourners took out a procession with the bodies from Nadihal and were proceeding towards Baramulla town, some 6 km away, when they were stopped by the police at Rafiabad. The police resorted to lathicharge and then fired several rounds in the air to disperse the mob. The mourners were then persuaded by the district administration to bury the bodies in the village. Baramulla special superintendent of police Shakeel Ahmad Baig said the bodies were buried in the village. On Friday night, angry villagers burnt down the house of Bashir Ahmad Lone, a former Special Police Officer (SPO) who was reportedly working with the army. The villagers accused him of handing over the youth to the army for staging the fake encounter. Muhammad Shafi (19), Shezad Ahmad (25) and Riyaz Ahmad (19) went missing on April 27 from Nadihal Rafiabad in Baramulla district. Shezad is married and has a five-year old child. Three days later, the army claimed to have killed three 'terrorists attempting to cross the Line of Control in the wee hours in the Machil sector in frontier district Kupwara of north Kashmir'. The army also claimed to have seized five AK rifles and a pistol after the ensuing gunfight. On May 10, the families of the youth filed a missing persons report in Panzla police station, under Sopore district. After seeing the photographs of militants killed in the April 30 encounter at Kalaroos Kupwara, the families asked for the bodies to be exhumed. On Friday, the bodies were exhumed and the families identified the youth. They were shot in the head from pointblank range, the police said. On April 30, the army had handed over the bodies to Kalaroos police post. The police had taken photographs of the bodies and handed them over to residents to bury them at the local graveyard. The army, sources said, had asked the police to record it as a joint operation but the police became suspicious over five AK rifles being seized from three 'unidentified militants' with bullet marks on their head. They recorded the incident as an army operation, the sources added. The police came to know about the incident after arresting Lone, the sources said. The families had told the police that the youth were last seen with Lone. On interrogation, Lone revealed that Territorial Army jawan Abbas Shah of Kamal Kote in Uri and former SPO Abdul Hamid Bhat had arranged for staging the encounter, the sources added. Lone had approached the youth promising them jobs of porters with the army at the LoC, but handed them over to Abbas, the sources said. The jawan allegedly handed them over to an army camp at Kalaroos in Kupwara district, where they were killed on the intervening night of April 29 and 30, the sources said. The police have arrested Abbas, of the 161 battalion of the Territorial Army posted at Gantamulla Baramulla, on charges of abduction and murder of the three civilians. Lone and Bhat have also been booked for the alleged murder. On Saturday, the Baramulla police handed over SPO Qayoom Lone of Nadihal Rafiabad, working with Special Operations Group, to the investigation team, sources said. Qayoom is the brother of Lone, the sources added.