“My son wanted to join the Indian Army. Little did he know that he would be killed by them,” said Shifat Jaan who had been waiting to receive the dead body of her son Mohammad Ibrar (16), one of the three men who were killed in a “staged–managed encounter” in South Kashmir’s Amshipora village in Shopian district on July 18. Jaan said that her son wanted to join the Army and had gone to Kashmir to earn some money so he could manage to buy books and continue his studies.
“The day Abrar reached, he called to inform me that he is safe, but has developed blisters on his feet due to excessive walking. He dropped the call saying that he will call me tomorrow and would be back after a month with some money and that I should not worry,” Jaan told NewsClick.
Jaan lost contact with her son afterwards, but believed that he had been put under quarantine due to COVID-19 guidelines. However, a picture circulated on social media made her realise that her son was not missing, but had been killed in an encounter.
“There is not even a single day I haven’t wept after that. I prayed every day for some miracle so that my son would come back to me alive,” she said, adding that she had been gathering courage to face her “dead son”.
“I have not eaten a single meal since the morning. I won’t eat until I see my son's face,” said Jaan.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration exhumed the bodies of three labourers belonging to Rajouri district of Jammu division from a graveyard in the Gantamulla area of North Kashmir’s Baramulla district, in the presence of the family members.
“We have been handed over the body. I am travelling back to my village with the bodies in a vehicle made available by the administration. We would reach home in the evening,” said Mohammad Yousuf, father of Abrar Ahmed (25), another youth, who was also killed in the encounter.
On September 18, the Army had admitted that an inquiry into the killings of the Shopian encounter had prima facie found that the personnel involved had violated powers conferred under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). The army had also assured that disciplinary proceedings would be initiated against those found “prima-facie answerable”.
“The prima facie evidence indicates that during the operation, powers vested under the AFSPA 1990 were exceeded and the Do’s and Don’ts of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) as approved by the Honorable Supreme Court have been contravened,” the Army spokesperson had said.
Following the confirmation, the families of the three slain young men – Abrar Ahmed (25), Imtiyaz Ahmed (20), and Mohammed Ibrar (16) – had been demanding that the bodies of the victims be handed over to them.
“Our sons have not died with dignity. But they will be buried with dignity,” Yousuf told NewsClick.
The Shopian encounter came to light after three families from Jammu’s Rajouri district claimed that the three men killed in an operation on July 18 were their kin and had visited Kashmir to find work as labourers to earn money. A day after their visit, the families of the victims had lost contact with their sons and after some time, the families had lodged a missing complaint in Rajouri.
Meanwhile, the Army had labelled the trio as “militants” and had discreetly buried them in North Kashmir’s Baramulla district – 100 kilometres away from the encounter site.
On September 21, the DNA samples of the three civilians matched those of the families.
A “high-level” Court of Inquiry (COI) has been ordered into the matter.
“Since the DNA samples (of the deceased) have matched with the families, the three bodies will be exhumed and handed over to the families after the due process of law,” Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kashmir, Vijay Kumar had said.
Meanwhile, Jaan who had been wailing and waiting for her son's body to arrive, said, “We don’t want money, nor any compensation. We want severe punishment for those who killed our sons. They are not entitled to dignity anymore.”
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