Srinagar: The family of Bashir Ahmad Khan, a civilian from Srinagar who was killed during a militant attack in Sopore along with a CRPF trooper, alleged the victim was "dragged out from his car and shot at from a point-blank range by the government forces".
Khan was accompanied by his three-year-old grandson when he was killed. His wife Farooqa said her 65-year-old husband was killed while he was carrying their grandson in his lap.
"The military personnel took him out of the car and shot him. They shot him and put the kid over his dead body," Farooqa said.
According to his family members, Khan worked at a local builder's firm and was on his way to Sopore for personal work. The inconsolable kin of Khan called his killing a "cold-blooded murder".
"Is this (PM) Modi’s justice? Is this our freedom? They put the little kid over his dead body. He worked on a meagre salary of Rs 8,000. Was he a Mujahid (militant)…? Tell me which Tanzeem (Militant outfit) did he work for," she said.
"They shot at him after dragging him out of his car. My son was with him, he always stayed with him and never left his side," Khan's daughter said.
The J&K police, however, refuted the claims of Khan's family stating that he was killed in the attack carried out by militants.
"When the militants carried out the attack, the victim came out of his car carrying the kid, but was hit by bullets. I want to ask them whether they were present at the site of the incident. Did they see themselves who fired? They have leveled those allegations due to the militants’ threat. If there is any eye-witness, they should come forward so we can act," IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar said.
Khan's nephew Farooq Ahmad said they were told by eye-witnesses that he was dragged from his car following which he was shot at.
"We went to the spot and asked some people there what happened, they told us the Mujahideen attacked the security forces and in that process, they lost numerous persons and to take revenge, they took my uncle out of his car when he was carrying his grandson in his lap and they shot at him on his back killing him at the spot. It is evident from his injuries that he was shot from close range," Farooq said.
IGP Kumar said the attack was carried out by militants of Lashkar e Taiba (LeT) early morning at about 7:30 am who fired from a nearby mosque, killing Khan, a CRPF trooper and leaving three other CRPF personnel injured. The police have recovered two magazines including one from an AK rifle from the mosque premises.
He added that the militants are carrying out attacks to trigger law and order issues and to trigger disturbances.
The picture of the toddler on his dead grandfather's body was widely shared on social media including by police officials in an attempt to highlight the "atrocity" carried out by the militants in the region.
The pictures of the toddler, apparently taken by forces present on the spot, were widely circulated on social media including by the official handle of J&K police - Kashmir Zone Police, drawing online condemnation to which IGP Kumar responded by saying that he will ensure police teams going for the operation don't carry mobiles. Many called out the police officials on social media for using the toddler's tragic situation as an insensitive publicity stunt against the laws of juvenile justice.
"Whoever has shared these pictures will have to face action," IGP Kumar said during a media brief.
"By disclosing the identity of a minor witness of a crime, Kashmir Zone Police (@KashmirPolice) stands in violation of Article 74 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015...It is also a breach of the “best interests of the child” principle as required to be the basis of any action by the authorities under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which India is a state party," rights body Amnesty International India tweeted.
Khan's killing in the Sopore attack is the second civilian killing in a week. Earlier, on June 25, in a similar incident at Bijbehara, South Kashmir, four-year-old Nihaan Bhat was killed during a militant attack as he accompanied his father.
Even as J&K police identified militant Zahid Daas of the Islamic State Jammu and Kashmir (ISJK) involved in Nihaan's killing, his family has blamed the security forces for their son's death.
As many as 15 civilians, according to police data, have been killed in Kashmir Valley in incidents related to militancy so far in 2020. In the last six months, over 130 militants have been killed in Jammu and Kashmir region of which over 110 were local Kashmiris. At least a dozen foreign militants, believed to be from Pakistan, have also been killed during this time.
Meanwhile, the National Conference party, while condemning Khan's killing, has sought a "time-bound judicial probe into the circumstances" which led to what they called a "barbaric incident."
“Such incidents can never be acceptable in any civilised society. It is therefore imperative upon the government to establish the verity behind the unfortunate incident. The veracity of the different versions will only come to forth following a time-bound judicial probe into the matter,” Party's provincial spokesperson Imran Nabi Dar said.
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