Dubious Encounters?

Two families assert their sons killed in encounters were not militants, reports Samreena Nazir

Brother and father of Imran Dar at their Butengoo residence. Abdul Qayoom, his father, an employee in SRTC, is showing his son’s photograph. The family alleges Imran was killed in a fake encounter on Jul;y 25, 2021. KL Image: Saqib Mir

On July 25, at around 8 am Abdul Qayoom Dar, a resident of Batengo, a highway village on the outskirts of Anantnag, got a call from the sarpanch asking him to report at the police post at Khanabal along with his elder son Imran Qayoom. Taking the matter lightly, Qayoom, an employee with SRTC, replied that he was on duty and would take some more time.

Sometime later, that day, his phone buzzed again. This time, it was an officer from the police station Anantnag allegedly threatening him that if he didn’t report at the station quickly he would arrest his whole family.

“I told the police officer that if Imran has done anything then they should arrest him. I thought it was about Narcotic Drug and Psychotropic Substances Act  (NDPSA) case which was registered against my son a few years ago,” A grieving Qayoom said.

Imran’s medical prescriptions reveal that he was treated first at a drug de-addiction centre in Srinagar and then underwent rehab at a government-run psychiatry hospital. After proper medical attention and family support, Imran had come out of drug addiction and was working as a marketing executive with an appliance manufacturing company where he would get Rs 6000 monthly.

Another Call

Qayoom reached home and got another call – this time from an unknown number. The caller told him “to identify a body at police post-Anantnag.”

By then, the sarpanch, Abdul Rashid Dar, 55, also received the same call and rushed to his house.

“I received a call at 2 pm from the police station saying you have to report quickly at the police station along with Qayoom. When I reached I was told that Imran has been killed in an encounter,” sarpanch Dar told him.

Mother Imran Dar is mourning in a tent at their Butengoo residence. Insisting that Imran had no militant links and was killed in a fake encounter. KL Image: Saqib Mir

Shocked, Qayoom rushed to the police station. “I was shown the photograph of in which he (Imran) was lying on the ground, dead,” Qayoom said. “Police told me that he was a militant who was killed in an encounter at Kulgam. I don’t want to believe this.”

Pained, Qayoom returned home and avoided sharing the information with his wife. Instead, he sent his daughter, Amreena and younger son, Zahid to confirm the news. They went to Qaimoh police station, not far away from their home, where they waited for almost an hour and then were told to reach the police post in Anantnag. There, they identified their slain brother.

News Was Out

The family went into instant mourning. Qayoom received yet another call asking him to see his son’s corpse at the Police Control Room (PCR) Srinagar, for the last time. Crying over the loss, the family reached the PCR Srinagar at around 7:30 PM but were told that the body had been buried earlier in the day.

“We didn’t see the body but photograph,” said Zahid. “We could neither see his face nor perform his last rites. We don’t even know where he is buried. I still can’t believe that he is no more.”

No Militant Links

Zahid said his brother had no links with the militancy. ”He had two FIRs on his name under Narcotic Drug and Psychotropic Substances Act but was never involved in any sort of militant activity,” Zahid asserted. The family has now appealed to the higher authorities for a probe into the incident. They also want Imran’s body back.

With addiction history, his family said they detected some change in his behaviour on the eve of Eid, on July 20, and it led his father to talk harshly. He left home there and then and went to his uncle’s home, not far away. The family knew where he is and on July 24, evening, his father decided to get him back. “I was on my way to my brother’s home that I saw him (Imran) near the fuel station,” his father said. “He was smoking and tried to hit his cigarette. I told him to come home and he said he will come within minutes.”

Police Version

The CASO launched along with 34-Rashtriya Rifles at Sursano village of Kulgam, Jammu and Kashmir Police said, was based on “specific input about the presence of terrorist” and during the operation “the terrorists hiding in the orchids started firing indiscriminately upon the security forces, which was retaliated leading to an encounter” in which he was killed. Recoveries included arms and ammunition.

No Police officer was willing to talk on the issue after the family alleged the encounter to be fake.

Second Incident

Imran’s killing is the second such incident in Kulgam. Earlier, a family in Chimmer (Noorabad) said their son Zakir Bashir, 17, who was killed within the village was innocent.

Uzma, the slain boy’s sister, said her brother was about to take a bath after returning from spraying pesticides in their orchard. Then, the family learnt about his death on Facebook, within hours on June 30. A class 10 drop-out, Zakir was a knowing cricketer and there is evidence about him playing at Nehama on June 23, 26 and 28. Police, however, said Zakir had joined TRF on June 23.

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