Civilians were killed in Shopian crossfire, says J-K CM Mehbooba Mufti

On Monday, two more bodies, of a militant and a civilian, were recovered from near the encounter site, taking the toll in the shootout to six. The civilian’s body was found in his car, a few hundred metres from the site.

Written by Bashaarat Masood , Naveed Iqbal | Shopian / Srinagar | Updated: March 6, 2018 7:32 am
shopian attack, mehbooba mufti, mufti on sphian killing, indian army, kashmir police, yasin malik, sp vaid, india news, indian express Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. (File)

Countering the Army’s assertion that four men killed in firing in Shopian on Sunday were militant “over ground workers”, J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti condoled their deaths and described them as “civilians caught in the crossfire”.

“Deeply distressed by more deaths of civilians caught in the crossfire in Shopian. My heartfelt condolences to the deceased’s families,” Mehbooba posted on her Twitter account Monday. Following the Chief Minister’s statement, the Army said that four of those killed were civilians who were accompanying militants.

“There is a thin line between civilian and OGW. We don’t have to be overly concerned about it. They were definitely civilians and it is a matter of investigation as to what extent they were involved in supporting terrorists,” said Brigadier Harbir Singh of 12 Sector Rashtriya Rifles (RR).

On Monday, two more bodies, of a militant and a civilian, were recovered from near the encounter site, taking the toll in the shootout to six. The civilian’s body was found in his car, a few hundred metres from the site, while the militant’s body was recovered from an orchard several kilometres away, said police.

Related | Shopian attack: Situation tense as death toll reaches six, CM upset over killing of civilians

The joint separatist leadership had called for a valley-wide shut down Monday following the incident and has called for a march to Shopian on Wednesday. Schools and offices remained shut, with the state government saying that educational institutions will remain close till March 7.

The Jammu and Kashmir Board of School Education has postponed all the exams scheduled for March 6 and 7. “All the schools of Kashmir Division shall remain closed on March 6 and 7 and the scheduled papers for biannual examinations of 10th and 12th classes in the division are also postponed,” a statement said.

On Sunday, the Army had said that a militant and three OGWs were killed when militants opened fire on a checkpost after they were asked to stop. Local residents and family members of those killed have maintained that the victims were civilians.

Commanding Officer, 44 RR, D S Negi, said the youths were accompanying a militant in two vehicles, which did not stop despite repeated orders.

“Instead, they opened heavy fire on our party. In the retaliation, one terrorist was killed. He fell down from the vehicle, which travelled some distance and veered off the road. The second vehicle moved ahead. Later, we found that three persons in the vehicle had died. They were travelling with the terrorist,” he said.

J&K Police said they were investigating the incident. “They were accompanying the militant. Their level of involvement is a subject of investigation,” said IG (Kashmir) S P Pani.

Challenging the Army and police claims, Abdul Rashid Lone, father of 23-year-old Gowhar Ahmad Lone who was among those killed, said, “We found his body inside the vehicle but there was no blood inside. He was hit on the back but there was no bullet in the back of the car seat.” Lone alleged that his son may have been dragged out of the car and killed.

Meanwhile, the opposition National Conference demanded that Chief Minister make public details of the incident and the circumstances leading to it.

“The varying accounts from the Chief Minister and the security forces on the incident are unfortunate and further perpetuate the sense of disenchantment, distrust and alienation,” said former chief minister Omar Abdullah.

“The Chief Minister has termed the deceased as civilians and it is hence incumbent upon her to take stringent legal action based on the information she has as Home Minister of the state,” he said.

The Jammu and Kashmir RTI movement registered a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission condemning the death of four youths. “After each and every brutal and inhuman killing of innocents, the state has been ordering probes and inquiries yielding no results and bringing not a single culprit to justice,” the complaint said.

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  1. I
    Indian Abroad
    Mar 6, 2018 at 8:03 am
    'Civilians' meaning STONE PELTERS.
    1. V
      Mar 6, 2018 at 7:08 am
      Mehabooba is a Liar,for her every Militant is a civilian.Why they are always at the place of encounter and why they always indulge in stone pelting .She is acting as terrorist stead of protecting the people of Kashmir,this lady is protecting Militants .Shame on such people who for the sake of Power will do anything .Even their conscious and nationality.If she loves Pakistan so much then let her go .
      1. Indian Singh
        Mar 6, 2018 at 7:01 am
        It's time KASHMIRIS did what PUNJABIS did long back- assist the Security Forces to eliminate JIHADIS from amongst them the way PUNJABIS assisted Security Forces to eliminate Khalistanis. ................. PA-KI ARMY is not PUMPING IN JIHADIS and CRORES of Rupees into Kashmir for love of Kashmiris but to get back at india for the DRUBBING PA-KI ARMY got in 1971 Bangladesh war when more than ONE LAKH PA-KI SOLDIERS - from GENERAL to JAWAN- surrendered to INDIA and the more recent KARGIL DEFEAT. PA-KI ARMY does not have the courage to take on Indian Army and so are using JIHADIS. ....................... KASHMIR was peaceful for 42 years from 1947 to 1989 in spite of THREE INDO-PAK WARS and the internal security of Kashmir was looked after by J AND K POLICE even during the wars as is the case in other states of India. PA-KI ARMY sponsored JIHAD in KASHMIR supported by less than ONE PERCENT KASHMIRIS (not more than 70,000 out of 70 LAKH population of Kashmir) is the cause of violence.
        1. T
          Thrinethran T
          Mar 6, 2018 at 6:13 am
          Her own IG of Police says they were accomplices and their involvement is being investigated. Why does the lady have to be like this?
          1. N
            Mar 6, 2018 at 5:41 am
            Killed in crossfire? What were the civilians doing during the on going fire with the terrorists?
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