Probe LoC encounters

Encounters along LOC have been a regular feature over the past few months. The statements issued by Army from time to time have described the slain men as hardcore militants. Furthermore claims of recovery of huge cache of arms and ammunition from the alleged slain militants were also made. However the recent reports of the criminal nexus between renegades and various army installations currently operational in counter-insurgency activities has put a question mark on the credibility of these operations and the claims made by army. Two recent incidents have further undermined the trust deficit the army is facing in J&K.
In one case, two young men, Shariq Ahmad Mir of Harie and Zahoor Ahmad of Helmitpora Kupwara  were allegedly lured by a former policeman of counter-insurgent Special Operations Group from Mondia Keran Kupwara. The cop had promised them jobs with the Intelligence Bureau. Instead, they were taken to Keran near the LoC and handed over to 5 JAT, allegedly with the intention of a fake encounter. The families of the youth approached the police and immediately informed higher army officials in time and the boys were rescued. They had been handed over initially to the Rashtriya Rifles and then to the JAT regiment.
Within days of this incident, another fake encounter scandal came into light. The army had claimed that it had killed three militants in a gunfight on LoC in Machil sector on April 30. Now it surfaces that the three men – Shafi, Shehzad and Riyaz – apparently were residents of Nadihal village who went missing on April 27 and had been lured or abducted by former SPOs (read Ikhwani’s).
The families identified their wards them from the photographs clicked after the encounter. Their bodies have now been exhumed.
The army had claimed that they recovered five assault rifles and some ammunition from the slain “militants’. It is now silent over the issue.
Police has rounded up two people in connection with the case. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has already ordered a probe in this regard. A few days back leader of the opposition Mehbooba Mufti has expressed her apprehensions about the rise in encounters along the LoC. The two reported incidents call in question the long term motives of the security establishment in valley.
With more and more voices raising the pitch for the removal of AFSPA, there are apprehensions in some quarters that the army has evolved its own means to counteract the rising tide against the free hand the institution has been enjoying.
The sudden spurt in gunfights on the LOC has taken many in the state by surprise.
It is time the government takes the suggestion of PDP president seriously, and institute a probe into all the recent gunfights on the LoC.

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