Ayushi Malik

Rajouri: Family members of three missing labourers from Rajouri district of Jammu, who were killed in an alleged ‘fake encounter’ in Shopian on 18 July have demanded a judicial enquiry into the matter.

“We demand a judicial enquiry into the matter. If found guilty theek hai, aur agar nahi hain toh inke sath aisa kyu hua (If they are found guilty then let it be. But if they were not guilty, we demand to know why they were killed?” Naseeb Ahmad, a relative of one of the three youths, told TwoCircles.net.

After pictures of three youth killed in an encounter in Shopian went viral on social media, the family members alleged that the ‘unidentified’ militants are their missing innocent relatives, who had gone to Shopian in search of work on 16 July.

Family members of the missing trio – Imtiaz Ahmed (21) s/o Sabr Hussain, Abrar Ahmed (18) s/o Bagga Khan and his brother in law Abrar Ahmed (25), all residents of Peeri in Rajouri district, said the trio are missing from 17 July.

The families filed a missing report on 9 August at the local police station claiming that there had been no whereabouts of the three youths since July 17 after the trio left their homes in Rajouri on July 16 to find work in Shopian district of Kashmir.

The last contact of the family with the trio was on July 17. The trio had informed the families that they had reached Shopian.

“We had filed a missing complaint on Sunday (9 August) and then on Monday (10 Aug), Additional SSP received the photographs from where we recognized them. The photographs have been shared on social media too. They belong to a poor family and whatever they earn through labour work, they spend it on studies and survival only”, Naseeb Ahmad said.

A social activist from Rajouri, Guftar Ahmed Chaudhary told TwoCircles.net that the family members of the trio thought that they were being quarantined due to the COVID-19 and that could be the reason that the family didn’t hear from them.

Guftar shared on social media that he had spoken to the concerned family who had identified the trio ‘beyond any doubt.”

Guftar said that the families are meeting with district administration on Tuesday and are demanding bodies of the three youth.

Receiving backlash on social media over the alleged fake encounter, Army on Monday said it is “investigating the matter” as it “noted social media inputs linked to the July 18 encounter at Shopian.”

“We have noted social media inputs linked to the operation at Shopian on 18 Jul 2020. The three militants killed during the operation have not been identified and the bodies were buried based on established protocols,” a defence ministry spokesman said in a statement. “Army is investigating the matter,” the statement added.

One of the missing youth, Imtiaz Ahmad (25), is survived by his wife and an 18-month-year-old son.

“His wife has no information regarding the matter as she, along with mother of Ibrar Ahmed (18) has gone to the upper mountain range to graze their cattle,” the family said.

Abrar Ahmad (18) was a student of 12th standard at Government Higher Secondary School, Peeri. “His father is working in Saudi as a labourer and the mother who is up in the mountains to graze the cattle, have no information about the tragic news,” the family said.

Imtiyaz Ahmad (25), the brother-in-law of the young Abrar, used to work in Saudi as a labourer too and had returned home this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This story first appeared in ‘Two Circles’ here.