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Kashmir: Arrested ‘militant’ aiding cops dies in encounter

Police say Showkat Ahmad Sheikh from Sedow village in Shopian had provided information about the presence of militants in Kupwara
Representational image.
Representational image.

Muzaffar Raina   |   Srinagar   |   Published 21.06.22, 02:38 AM

A suspected militant from south Kashmir’s Shopian who was arrested over a fortnight ago was killed along with three Pakistani militants during an encounter in north Kashmir’s Kupwara on Monday.

Police said Showkat Ahmad Sheikh from Sedow village in Shopian had provided information about the presence of militants in a forest area of Lolab in Kupwara, prompting the forces to launch an operation on Sunday by taking him along.

Showkat, according to the police, had got “trapped” in the initial exchange of fire and his body was recovered on Monday. His family has questioned the police claim and said he was innocent.

In October, a Pakistani militant arrested 18 years ago had purportedly died under similar circumstances after the police took him to an encounter site in Poonch.

The police said an anti-militancy operation was launched in Chandigam forest area in Lolab following the disclosure of “arrested terrorist Showkat Ahmad Sheikh” on Sunday.

Kashmir inspector-general of police Vijay Kumar said Showkat’s interrogation had revealed that there were some Pakistani militants hiding in the Lolab Valley. He said an encounter ensued when he was taken there, leaving him and three Pakistani militants from Lashkar-e-Toiba dead.

On June 7, Shopian superintendent of police Tanushri had told reporters that two persons, Showkat and Parvaiz Ahmad, were arrested for their alleged role in an IED blast in that area on May 2 that killed an armyman and injured two more.

The Shopian SP had said Lashkar militant Aabid Ramzan Sheikh was behind the attack and he had provided explosives and training to the duo to carry out the attack.

Showkat’s uncle Abdul Gaffar said his nephew was a driver by profession and was not linked to militancy.

“Several days back, he was called by the police. He went to the police station but they let him go that day. The next day, they summoned Showkat and Parvaiz and detained them for three days. The Shopian court later sent them to (police) remand and they were shifted to Hirpora police station,” Abdul told The Telegraph.

“We went to meet him eight days ago. The next day, they were taken to Shopian police station again but we could find only Parvaiz there, not him. Around 17 days after his arrest, they told us today he is dead.”

According to Showkat’s family Parviaz was told by the police that Showkat had been taken to Sopore police station.

“He was innocent. He sold three kanals of land to buy a vehicle to ferry cattle from one place to another to make a living. His body was not returned to us. They did not even allow us to participate in his funeral. We were told he has been buried.”

Locals said over half a dozen people have been arrested in connection with the May 2 IED blast, two of whom have been publicly named by the police as accused.

In October, Pakistani militant Zia Mustafa died during an anti-militancy operation in Jammu’s Poonch. The operation had left nine soldiers dead but the militants had managed to escape, causing huge embarrassment to the security forces.

Mustafa, who was in jail for the past 18 years, was taken to the encounter site allegedly for identification of a terrorist hideout. The police said he died in firing by militants.

Mustafa was allegedly involved in the March 23, 2003 Nadimarg massacre in which 24 Kashmiri Pandits were killed. The militant had denied any involvement and told court that he was arrested a week before the massacre.

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