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regular-article-logo Sunday, 16 June 2024

‘60% proof’ against slain three with Kashmir police

Valley police chief Vijay Kumar also said that their bodies would not be handed over to their families

Muzaffar Raina Srinagar Published 19.01.21, 12:50 AM
The December 30 killing of the three youths, including 17-year-old Class XI student Athar Mushtaq, has inflamed tensions across the Valley,

The December 30 killing of the three youths, including 17-year-old Class XI student Athar Mushtaq, has inflamed tensions across the Valley, File picture

The police have “60 per cent” evidence that the three youths killed in an alleged gunfight in Srinagar last month were militants, Valley police chief Vijay Kumar said on Monday, adding that their bodies would not be handed over to their families.

The December 30 killing of the three youths, including 17-year-old Class XI student Athar Mushtaq, has inflamed tensions across the Valley, with their families denying the boys had militant links. The families and senior politicians have sought the return of their bodies.

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The army and the police have been saying they have evidence that the three were militants. But Kumar’s latest claim about “60 per cent” evidence suggests the forces are still struggling to prove the charge.

The authorities have stopped returning the bodies of militants to their families to try and avert emotionally charged funerals, which they believe provide recruits to the militants.

The families of the three slain youths, who say they were killed in a staged gunfight, have been demanding the bodies so they can hold proper funerals and bury them in local graveyards.

Athar’s father Mushtaq Ahmad has dug an empty grave in his village graveyard and said he would continue to fight for his body all his life.

“There is no question of returning (their bodies). Their 60 per cent involvement is proven,” Kumar told reporters in Srinagar.

“We are deliberately not sharing the details because it’s a very sensitive issue. The data collected by us so far shows all the three had an involvement (with militancy). We want 10 more days. We will get all the evidence, show it to their parents and convince them about their sons’ involvement.”

Kumar said the reason the bodies would not be returned is that militants’ funerals attract thousands.

He said that following an ordinary citizen’s natural death, their acquaintances follow the Covid protocol.

But if a militant or an associate dies, “people become emotional and come out and stopping them becomes difficult”, he said. “If we use bullets, tear gas or pellets, you will criticise.”

Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti recently claimed that one reason she fell out with former ruling ally BJP was her opposition to the Centre’s demand that militants’ bodies not be returned to their families.

Mehbooba and other senior politicians have spoken to lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha and sought a probe into the Srinagar killings and the return of the bodies.

The bodies of three men killed in Shopian in July were returned to their families in Rajouri after the forces concluded they were innocents slain in a fake encounter.

A chargesheet has been filed accusing Captain Bhoopender Singh of 62 Rashtriya Rifles of staging the gunfight to bag the Rs 20-lakh reward.

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