Srinagar, Sept. 9: The Shopian killings on the day of Zubin Mehta’s concert have snowballed into a major controversy with the Omar Abdullah government claiming three of the four persons shot by the CRPF had no “previous militancy record”.
The central force claims they were militants involved in an attack at a checkpoint on Saturday when Zubin held his maiden concert in Srinagar attended by several foreign diplomats.
The killings have triggered massive protests in Shopian and Kulgam districts of south Kashmir where residents claim all four were innocent civilians. The districts have been under curfew since Saturday.
A police spokesperson today said three of the slain youths — Tawseef, Yousuf and Tariq — have “no previous police record of militancy”.
The police said the fourth “appeared to be a non-local who has neither been claimed nor identified by any local”.
“However, the evidence collected from the spot and subsequent verifications suggest that he is Abdullah Haroon of the Lashkar-e-Toiba. One pistol, two grenades and a diary were recovered from the spot. Besides, the mobile phone recovered from his pocket contains a video clip showing weapons snatched from police and CRPF personnel in the incidents of Arwani and Awnera Shopian. Further, the mobile phone has Dialer/Skype software which is available with Lashkar commanders,” the spokesperson added.
The fresh statement is a climbdown from the earlier ones in which the police claimed two of the four dead were “anti-national” elements who died in retaliatory CRPF firing.
Today’s statement has no mention that they were anti-national elements.
The statement has brought into question the CRPF’s claims which had said all four were militants who had attacked a team of the force.
IGP CRPF (operations) Nalin Prabhat called the police statement “a play of words”.
“You have to read between the lines. Because it is a sensitive matter, the police have given an open-ended statement where the police have clearly said they (the slain persons) do not have a past militant record. It doesn’t mean their present is unquestionable,” Prabhat told The Telegraph.
He said six militants were involved in the attack in which four died, one was injured and one, identified as Lashkar commander Khomeni, escaped.
The killings have given the separatists fresh ammunition to target the government, Zubin and German ambassador Michael Steiner, who had organised Saturday’s concert.
Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani yesterday demanded an apology from Mehta and Steiner for holding the concert. Geelani has asked people of south Kashmir to march towards Shopian tomorrow to protest the killings.