Kashmir government orders probe into police killings of 3 civilians

Police earlier claimed to have killed militant, his aides in Tuesday’s raid as pro-freedom group calls for strike on Friday.

SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir (AA) – The Indian-administered Kashmir government has ordered an inquiry into an operation in which four people were killed on Tuesday, with the families of the three deceased locals contesting the government’s version of the incident.

Lt Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha said an official with the rank of additional district magistrate will investigate the operation, which police said took place in the capital Srinagar’s Hyderpora area.

“Government will take suitable action as soon as the report is submitted in a time-bound manner. JK admin reiterates the commitment of protecting lives of innocent civilians & it will ensure there is no injustice,” Sinha’s office tweeted on Thursday.

Altaf Ahmad Bhat, a businessman, Dr. Mudasir Gul, a dentist and businessman, Aamir Ahmad Magray, Gul’s office helper, and another person who was named by police as Haider were killed on late Tuesday evening.

Police said they had cordoned off the area off after being tipped off about the presence of militants there. They came under fire during the searches, and in retaliation, they killed a man “Haidar, a foreign militant, and his associate Magray.”

They claimed Gul had provided militants with logistical support and was what police refer to as a terrorist supporter and worker on the ground.

The police initially stated that Bhat was a militant’s associate, but later stated that he died in the crossfire the next day.

However, the families of Bhat and Gul said they were either killed in cold blood or used as human shields during the exchange of fire. Both were gathered in a building with several other nearby business owners, they added.

During the searches, Bhat was twice taken to a nearby building that he owned and where Gul was a tenant. Each time he was brought back to the gathering. Both Bhat and Gul were taken to the building the third time, according to the families, but did not return this time.

Bhat’s niece, Saima, told Anadolu Agency that her uncle was a father of three children, ages 8 to 14, with no ties to militancy. She tweeted that “he was killed in cold blood.” Similarly, the families of Dr. Gul and Magray have been told by the police that their deceased relatives were involved in militancy.

The bodies of none of the deceased were returned to their families, since the police have refused to deliver the bodies of militants or suspected militants to their families since last year, fearing large funerals and protests.

Bhat and Gul’s family members, who were staging a sit-in to demand the bodies for proper last rites and burial in their native places, were removed by the police on Wednesday evening from Press Enclave, an uptown area where offices of many media outlets are located.

The Hurriyat Conference, a conglomerate of pro-freedom parties, has called for a strike on Friday to protest the killings, which have been widely condemned by several pro-India political parties.

– Disputed Region

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, New Delhi and Islamabad have fought three wars – in 1948, 1965, and 1971 – two of them over Kashmir.

Also, in the Siachen glacier in northern Kashmir, Indian and Pakistani troops have fought intermittently since 1984. A cease-fire took effect in 2003.

Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.

According to several human rights organizations, thousands have reportedly been killed in the conflict since 1989.

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