Kashmir: Police Criticised for Using Force Against Families Demanding Bodies of Locals Killed in Shoot-Out, Probe Ordered
Candle light protest by two families at press enclave Srinagar. Photo: Kamran Yousuf
Srinagar: On Thursday, the Jammu and Kashmir government launched a magisterial probe in the controversial Hyderpora shoot-out where four persons, including civilians, were killed earlier on Monday after victims' families questioned the role of police in the incident.
Families protest at press enclave Srinagar. Photo: Kamran Yousuf
"A magisterial inquiry by an officer of ADM rank has been ordered in Hyderpora encounter. Govt will take suitable action as soon as the report is submitted in a time-bound manner. JK admin reiterates the commitment of protecting lives of innocent civilians & it will ensure there is no injustice," the office of the LG J&K tweeted.
The separatist groups have also called for a shutdown on Friday against the killings. The administrative probe comes after the police authorities were lashed out by the victims' families, political parties and civil rights groups for using the two victims as "human shields" during the encounter. The families of Altaf Ahmad and Dr Mudasir Gul held a protest in Srinagar's Press Enclave demanding the return of bodies buried far away in North Kashmir's Handwara about 100 km from the city.
The police, however, in the night at about 11:30 pm, forcefully removed the families from the site where the sit-in was being held. The families were arrested briefly but released later. Many questioned the police's use of force against the mourners, with many, like National Conference leader Ruhullah Mehdi, terming it akin to infamous General Dyer's actions.
"General Dyer must be very proud of you," Mehdi tweeted, mentioning J&K police along with a video that showed police using excessive force against the families.
Former chief minister Omar Abdullah termed the actions "outrageous" and appealed to the LG administration to return the bodies to the families.
Omar Abdullah protests in Srinagar against resent killings in Srinagar. Photo: Kamran Yousuf
"This is the Naya Kashmir of 2021. This is how the J&K police fulfil @PMOIndia promise to remove "dil ki doori & Dilli se doori. It's outrageous that the J&K administration did not allow the families to conduct a peaceful sit-in protest," Omar tweeted.
The incident has generated a wave of solidarity in the region towards the families, including towards the third victim of the encounter, Amir Ahmad of the Banihal area, who the police later claimed was a local militant. Amir's family has also contested the police claims and demanded the return of his body. The family has also warned they will launch an agitation following which the authorities imposed restrictions in the Gool Gulabgarh area, around 150 km from Srinagar.
In South Kashmir's Anantnag district, dozens of lawyers held a protest and demanded the return of bodies. At the same time, the UT administration thwarted a protest by the People's Democratic Party (PDP) and arrested party president Mehbooba Mufti and other PDP leaders, including Suhail Bukhari and Najmu Saqib.
"Their narrative right from the start was based on lies to escape accountability. They don't want to be held accountable for their actions & that's why they are muzzling voices that speak up against such injustice & atrocities," Mehbooba said in a tweet.
The Sajad Lone's People Conference members held a protest in Srinagar's Sangarmaal market complex and expressed solidarity with the families of the victims.
Meanwhile, both factions of the Hurriyat Conference have given a strike call on Friday against the Hyderpora encounter, a first since the abrogation of Article 370 was carried out on August 5, 2019.
A spokesperson of All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), which nominated incarcerated Masarat Alam as their new head after Geelani's death, has also asked people to organise mass funeral prayers in absentia for all the slain civilians.
"The tragedy that has struck the families of innocent civilians killed in the Hyderpora staged encounter is so tormenting that its pain has stunned the people of Kashmir," the statement read.
"The manner in which the older brother of slain Altaf Bhat and other family members are being forcibly dragged and beaten by state forces and huddled into police vehicles to prevent them even from demanding the dead bodies of their loved ones for burial is unbelievably inhuman," APHC further said in its statement.
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