Jammu and Kashmir LG orders magisterial probe into Hyderpora encounter, civilians’ bodies exhumed after outcry | India News – Times of India


SRINAGAR: While Jammu and Kashmir lieutenant-governor Manoj Sinha ordered a magisterial inquiry on Thursday into Monday evening’s Hyderpora encounter to get to the truth about the involvement and killing of two civilians killed in the gun battle, the authorities exhumed the bodies of the civilians after sunset and were to return them to the families for burial.
The exhumation order came in response to surging anger across Kashmir over the authorities’ initial refusal to hand over the civilians’ corpses to their families for the last rites. The bodies had been buried in Handwara by the police and were being moved to Srinagar, officials were quoted as saying by PTI. Apart from the families of the slain men, Opposition political parties, too, had demanded that the bodies be returned to the families for burial.
The two civilians were Altaf Ahmad Bhat, the owner of the building in which the terrorists were hiding, and Mudasir Gul, a dentist by training who was running a call centre on the same premises. Gul, according to the authorities, had been aiding the militants.
The J&K police chief, DGP Dilbag Singh, said the police was “open to corrections if anything has gone wrong”. He told reporters that they would look into the demands of the families. “We will find out what happened in the Hyderpora encounter. We are for the safety of the people and will not shy away from a probe,” the DGP said.
The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), meanwhile, demanded a “judicial inquiry” into the killing of civilians in the Hyderpora encounter. It said the same administration could not “act as judge, jury and executioner” and that a judicial inquiry was needed.
The police had said that Bhat had been killed in the crossfire and that Gul was an overground worker (for the terrorists), a claim rejected by Gul’s family. The other two men killed were identified by the police as foreign terrorist Haidar and his local associate, Amir Ahmad of Banihal. Amir’s family, too, had contested the police claim that he was a terrorist.
Srinagar deputy commissioner Ajaz Asad appointed ADC (Srinagar) Khurshid Ahmad Shah as the inquiry officer for the Hyderpora encounter and asked him to submit his report within 15 days. “It has been felt expedient to conduct a magisterial inquiry into the matter so as to ascertain the facts and circumstances related to the incident and the cause of death,” the deputy commissioner’s order said. He said a case (FIR vide No. 193/2021) was registered on November 16 at Police Station Sadder, Srinagar “and is under investigation by an SIT”. Meanwhile, the ADC (Srinagar) issued a general notice asking the general public or any person who had knowledge of the incident, and was willing to record his/ her statement or wanted to give any other information about the incident, to come to his office for recording of statements within 10 days.
Bhat and Gul’s families had staged a sit-in protest in Srinagar demanding the return of the bodies but the protest had been dispersed by the police in the middle of the night. “I am grateful, and also thankful, to L-G Manoj Sinha for ordering a magisterial inquiry into the Hyderpora encounter. I am hopeful that the probe will be taken to its logical conclusion and the truth will come out under the supervision of L-G Sahib,” Bhat’s brother, Abdul Majeed, said. “My brother has little children who want to see their father one last time,” Majeed had said earlier.
Gul’s wife, Humaira, who was there at the sit-in protest in Srinagar along with her 18-month-old daughter, said the police must come up with proof that her husband was an OGW. She said if this was proved, the “police can kill her along with her daughter and one would raise their voice then”.
National Conference vice-president and former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah, too, had led a sit-in protest at a local park at Sonwar, close to his Gupkar Road residence in Srinagar, against the government not handing over the bodies of the civilians killed. “I had decided not to stage a sit-in but to knock on other doors, but the way the families of the slain were treated yesterday (Wednesday) evening, I couldn’t control myself and decided to raise my voice,” Omar said, adding, “The families were first called to the SP’s office, and then to the PCR, and then asked to wait for two-three days. So I had no option but to join the families in protest.”
He said that at this stage he has nothing to do with the inquiry ordered into the Hyderpora encounter. Asked about hybrid militants, the former CM said, “I have read so many intelligence reports, and I do watch happenings across the world, but I haven’t heard about hybrid militants. Someone should make me understand what it means,” he said.
Peoples Conference leaders had also staged massive protests in Srinagar over the killing of the civilians and had demanded that their bodies be immediately handed over to their families for burial.

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