Hizbul Mujahideen claimed on Tuesday that the three youths, whose bullet-ridden bodies were found in an orchard in north Kashmir’s Pattan area on Monday, had recently joined the militant outfit, and alleged that they were killed by the Special Operation Group of police.
“The three had recently joined Hizbul Mujahideen. Agents of our enemy and the Special Operation Group of Police is responsible for the gruesome murder. They were our active members and killed in custody,’’ said Hizbul spokesperson Saleem Hashimi, quoting chief Syed Salahudin.
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The outfit also denied the existence of Lashkar-e-Islam and said that the government and its agencies were “trying to fool the people by portraying the killings as the fallout of a rivalry between the Hizbul and Lashkar-e-Islam”.
“If the Indian government thinks that the ongoing freedom struggle will weaken, then they are mistaken. Killers and their agents will be taken to task very soon,” Salahudin threatened.
The police had identified the three youths as Ashiq Wani, Naved Khan and Amir Rishi, and claimed that the three had joined militant group Lashkar-e-Islam — a breakaway group of Hizbul Mujahideen, led by Qayoom Najar.
Meanwhile, clashes broke out between locals and police in major towns of north Kashmir, a day after the bodies were discovered. In Sopore, police and protesters clashed throughout the day in the main market. Several towns were also shut. To prevent any untoward incident, troops were deployed, especially on the Srinagar-Baramulla highway.
The Geelani-led faction of Hurriyat Conference and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) have called for a shutdown of Kashmir on Wednesday. Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Geelani termed the killings a “cold blooded murder’’ and asked people to observe complete shutdown across the Valley.