Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Police special investigation team (SIT) investigating the controversial Hyderpora encounter has said that the building was frequented by the foreign militant killed there on November 15. The operation was carried out jointly by 2 RR of the Army, the Special Operations Group of the J&K Police and the Central Reserve Police Force.
Three civilians, including Dr Mudasir Gul—who had his office inside the building—his office help Amir Margay and the building owner Altaf Bhat, were killed in the encounter, which had triggered a massive outrage with their families alleging that the victims were used as human shields by the security forces despite having no links with militants.
The Pakistani-origin militant, identified as Bilal Bhai, alias Hyder, the J&K Police said, worked closely with Margay. The SIT, formed after the security forces were accused of staging the encounter, in a presser here on Tuesday refuted the allegations that Bhat and Gul were used as “human shields” by the security forces.
“Our investigation revealed that Altaf was made a human shield by the foreign terrorist and he was killed in the crossfire,” deputy inspector general of police Sujit Kumar Singh, who heads the SIT, said.
Singh added that both Gul and Bhat had claimed that no one else was present inside the building. “They did not seek any help from the security forces and neither asked for any support like bulletproof vests or security cover.”
The police shared a detailed sequence of the events, including CCTV footage, and call detail record indicating that Margay was linked to militancy and had aided Hyder in the attack in Jamalatta area on November 14.
During the investigation, eyewitnesses confirmed that Hyder regularly visited the building, the police said. The investigation is on and it is yet to be ascertained whether Gul was a militant associate, Singh said.
“Dr Mudasir’s body was found in the attic of the building with wounds inflicted by a 9 mm pistol. The security forces did not engage in firing and it is clear that he was shot by the foreign terrorist hiding there,” Singh said. “Perhaps, the foreign terrorist received instructions from outside that Dr Mudasir may have been behind the encounter. On this suspicion, he killed Dr Mudasir Gul in the attic of the building,” he added.
According to the SIT, extensive questioning of witnesses in Srinagar as well as Bandipora, which Amir frequented, raised suspicion of his involvement. The police also questioned people from Darul Uloom Raheemiya, a religious seminary where Amir, a resident of Ramban, was enrolled. “He had left the school in 2018 and started working in Srinagar,” Singh said.
The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), which had also called for a probe into the incident, termed the police’s press briefing as “only a repetition of the old story”.
“It does not even slightly give any objective picture of the shocking incident. There is a strong public perception that the civilians killed in the incident were made human shields by the security forces, and the latest statement of the police seems to be a concocted cover-up story. It will not suffice to address the legitimate concerns of the people at large and the families of the slain victims,” PAGD spokesperson MY Tarigami said.
The PAGD “firmly believes that nothing short of a credible judicial probe” will clear the doubts. The administration must, without any further delay, order a time-bound judicial probe, Tarigami added.
Meanwhile, the J&K home department said in a statement that the inquiry report “has been received by the government and the district magistrate has been advised to send the report to the Judicial Magistrate having jurisdiction under Section 190 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, as mandated under the law”.