Families claim Kashmiri youths killed in encounter were not militants

In a rare protest, the families of three people killed in a gunfight in Kashmir have said that they were not militants, adding that two of them had only left their home for some work.

Two teenagers and a young man were killed after a firefight with a joint team of police and government forces at Hokersar on the city outskirts of Srinagar on Tuesday. According to the police, a 20-hour gun battle had taken place, wherein the so-called ‘terrorists’ were repeatedly told to surrender.

The families of the deceased have spoken against the label of terrorist.

“Yesterday at 10 a.m., he had tea with me and I swear about it. I don’t know where he was brought down from Sumo. Is this what is going to happen in Kashmir. Is this democracy? Is this the governor Raj? Kill me. Why you killed him. He was a student,” said Bashir Ahmad Ganie, grandfather of Aijaz Maqbool, one of the men killed.

Ganie added that Aijaz was the son of a policeman posted in Ganderbal. The families of the other victims — high school student Athar Mushtaq and carpenter Zubair — also insisted they were innocent.

The families had said that the two had been on their way to tuitions; meanwhile, the police insisted that two of them had been classified as high-ranking members of a known terrorist group, while the third might have been a new inductee.

“One of them lobbed grenade at the outset. Two of the killed were hardcore militants with one of them being a cousin brother of killed Hizbul Mujahideen commander Rayees Kachroo,” a police official said.

However, Kashmir Inspector General of Police Vijay Kumar admitted the names of the trio killed in the ‘encounter’ were not in the “list of terrorists”, reported The Indian Express.

Reportedly, bodies of all three have been taken to Baramulla for burial with their family members allowed to participate in their last rites.

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