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Families of Shopian ‘encounter’ victims seek justice

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Srinagar: Police have said that they are in the final stage of investigation into the Shopian fake encounter case and two persons stated to be army informers have been detained and taken to judicial remand. The families of victims said that they are looking for exemplary punishment to the culprits responsible for their killing.

While talking to media, parents and other relatives of the victims said on telephone from Rajouri that they are not getting fair treatment from the bureaucracy and police. “Even for the exhumation of the bodies, we have to knock on many doors even after police said that we can take them to our native villages for burial,” one of their relatives told this reporter. Asked if the families have been compensated by the UT administration or by the Central government, he said that so far, they have received nothing.

When this reporter approached the Deputy Commissioner’s office of Rajouri, they claimed that so far, they have received no instructions from the Divisional Commissioner to provide any compensation to these families in the remote village of Rajouri.

The relatives of the victims’ families claimed that the people in uniform were so desperate to kill them for rewards and awards that they did not allow them even to have their cooked dinner in the rented room of Shopian. “The government should come clean on the probe and provide us all the details of how they were killed and why the government is maintaining silence over the demand for justice,” one of the relatives told this reporter.

Belonging to very poor families of a remote village in the mountainous district of Rajouri which witnesses a lot of border shelling, these three young cousins had come to Shopian to earn some money to carry on their education.

The Army was the first to order probe even before the J&K Police into this encounter and after the investigation, told media that they have found “during this encounter at Shopian that powers vested under the AFSPA [Armed Forces Special Powers Act] 1990 were exceeded and the dos and don’ts of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) as approved by the Hon’ble Supreme Court have been contravened”.

According to media reports from Delhi quoting defence sources, four Army men, including an officer, have been prima facie found guilty and in accordance with army rules, further action would be taken against them.

These reports said that the army has initiated the summary of evidence (SoE) against the guilty army men after the conclusion of the Court of Inquiry into the Shopian encounter.

Last week, the DNA samples of the three youths killed in Shopian had confirmed that the slain trio was from Rajouri who, the families alleged, was killed in a staged encounter.

A few days ago, J&K Police said that DNA samples of the three youths of Rajouri killed in the Shopian encounter have matched with their family members and said that they have told the families to exhume the bodies from Sonmarg for a burial in their village.

It is in place to mention that the police report filed by the families in Rajouri district said that they went missing from 17 July and killed in an alleged fake encounter the next day. On 18 July, the police and thearmy said in a joint operation launched on information from the army, troops had killed three unidentified militants at Amshipora, Shopian. Police in a statement after the gunfight said that they have recovered arms and ammunition along with incriminating material from the killed militants.

Sunday Guardian

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