Probing Jul 18 Shopian encounter in which 3 ‘terrorists’ were killed: Army

(File/Representational Image)

Abid Bashir

Srinagar (NVI): A high-level Court of Inquiry (CoI) has been ordered under which investigations into July 18 Shopian encounter are underway in which three “terrorists” were killed, amid allegations that the gunbattle was stage-managed, the Army said today.

Three unidentified “militants” were killed in the encounter on July 18 at Amshipora, Shopian. Pictures of three youths went viral on social media with some unverified posts claiming that the encounter was fake.

Following this, three families from Rajouri district claimed that the slain “militants” being shown in the pictures are their wards who had gone to Shopian to find some work as labourers.

On August 11, the Army had stated that it had taken note of the social media reports where netizens had termed the encounter as a fake and maintained that “investigations into the matter were ordered.”

Defence spokesman Rajesh Kalia said that as intimated on August 11, a high-level Court of Inquiry into the operation Ashimpora, Shopian is under process.

“Statements of key witnesses are being recorded and progress is being monitored closely. Additional civil witnesses are being asked to depose before the CoI. Concurrently, DNA samples have been collected from Rajouri under the aegis of Jammu and Kashmir police and sent for matching with the militants killed on July 18, 2020,” Colonel Kalia said.

He said that the army is committed to ethical conduct of all the counter militancy operations. “Cases where doubts are raised are investigated under due process as per the law of the land. Since the case is under investigation, further details will be shared periodically, as appropriate without affecting due legal process,” the Defence spokesman said.

Pertinently, a special team from Jammu and Kashmir Police had visited Rajouri recently and collected the samples of families of three deceased youths in encounter. The samples were sent to Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) for cross matching, the reports of which are expected by September 5. The families have been demanding an independent probe, a demand supported by the Amnesty International and other civil society groups.