The controversy started after the post-encounter photographs of three young men surfaced on social media. The families identified them as three cousins who went missing on July 17
NEW DELHI – The army has initiated a Court of Inquiry into the alleged encounter deaths of three missing men in Jammu and Kashmir’s Shopian district last month. The army had claimed that they were terrorists. But their families in the Rajouri area filed a complaint with the police that their missing sons were killed in a staged encounter and passed off as terrorists.
Their families said that 17-year-old Abrar, 25-year-old Imtiyaz and 20-year-old Abrar Ahmad were labourers, who had gone to Shopian to work.
“As intimated on 11 Aug 2020, a high-level Court of Inquiry into Op Amshipora, Shopian on 18 Jul 2020 is under progress. Statements of key witnesses are being recorded and progress is being monitored closely,” NDTV quoted the army as saying in a statement on Tuesday.
The army said the Court of Inquiry will record the statements of civilian witnesses, and the DNA samples of the missing men have been collected and sent for matching with those of the terrorists killed in the encounter.
The controversy started after the post-encounter photographs of three young men surfaced on social media. The families identified them as three cousins who went missing on July 17 from a rented accommodation in the Chowgam village in Shopian district.
Following the controversy, both the army and the police had said they were investigating the matter.
The locals had told NDTV that after the encounter, people in the area were called by the police and the army to identify the bodies – none of them turned out to be locals.
“We were called to identify the bodies. We could not identify any of them – they were not locals. They had bullets in their face, eyes and chest,” said Mohammad Ashraf, a villager who lives just 100 meters from the encounter site.
The police say the bodies can be exhumed and handed over to the families only when their DNA samples match. Last week a police team from Shopian visited Rajouri and collected the DNA samples, NDTV reported.
The relatives of the three men, native of Dhar Sakri village in Rajouri area in Poonch, had lost contact with them on July 17, a day before the encounter.
The families had said that the men had told them that were staying in a rented room at Chowgam, 8 km from the encounter site.
Several regional parties in the Union Territory had demanded a thorough probe into the encounter and the disappearance of the men.
Earlier this month, Srinagar-based Defence spokesperson Colonel Rajesh Kalia issued a brief statement saying the army had noted social media messages linked to the encounter.