J&K L-G Manoj Sinha said Thursday that he is “looking into the facts” related to the alleged gunfight on the outskirts of Srinagar city late last month in which security forces killed three youths who, they claimed, were “militants”.
“I want to say this with all responsibility that if anything is found suspicious in the matter, I will definitely get it probed,’’ Sinha said. He was responding to questions from reporters during an interaction to announce a scheme to boost industry in the Union Territory with an outlay of Rs 28,400 crore.
The L-G’s comments come days after the families of the three youths killed in Lawaypora in the early hours of December 30 alleged that the incident was a “staged gunfight” and that their children were innocent.
The incident happened four days after J&K Police filed a chargesheet against an Army officer and two civilians over the killing of three labourers from Rajouri in another “encounter” at Shopian in July.
Sinha, however, said the administration needs to “maintain a fine balance” to ensure that “the morale of security forces” is not lowered since “Jammu and Kashmir is a sensitive Union Territory”. “All the details have come to me and I am looking into them. You will get an appropriate answer at the appropriate time,’’ he said.
According to police, the three youths — Zubair Ahmad Lone (20) of Turkwangam in Shopian, and Athar Mushtaq (16) and Ajaz Maqbool (22) of Pulwama — were killed in an operation launched by the Army based on inputs.
The families, however, said the youths had gone to Srinagar for some work. While Zubair’s two brothers are working in J-K Police, Ajaz was the son of a policeman.
“My brother was home that day (December 29) till 2 pm. How could he become a militant within two hours (when the alleged gunfight started)? There was no record with any security agency against him. We want a probe. There was a similar incident in Shopian. There also they claimed to have recovered weapons from the dead militants. But they, too, turned out to be civilians,” said Mohammad Shafi Lone, brother of Zubair.
The families have also demanded the return of the bodies of the youths. “I want justice. I don’t need money. I only want the body of my son. He was only 16,” said Mushtaq Ahmad, father of Athar Mushtaq.
On January 4, J-K Police released two videos on Twitter that purportedly showed soldiers making announcements and asking the three youths “to surrender”. However, while GoC (Kilo Force) H S Sahi said that when given the option to “surrender, the militants opened fire”, the videos do not include the sound of any bullet being fired or any other response.
Replying to another question about restoration of 4G mobile data services in J&K, Sinha said that a court committee is examining the issue. “Hopefully, there will be good news soon in the coming days,” he said.