Lawaypora Encounter: Families Protest, Demand Bodies, Fair Investigation

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  KO Photo: Abid Bhat

Srinagar- Families of three youth, killed in an “encounter” at Lawaypora area of Srinagar recently, along with some local activists and people on Monday staged a protest demonstration in Press Enclave Srinagar, demanding a fair investigation and return of bodies of the “innocent” trio.

“We want justice. We are ‘oppressed’. Our son was innocent. Return his body,” said a family member of one of the slain youth during the protest held despite the snowfall. “They have snatched everything from me. Now nothing is left with me. Kill me in encounter also and bury me along with them,” Mushtaq Ahmad Wani, father of the 16-year-old youth Athar Mushtaq Wani who was among the three youth killed last week, said according to news agency GNS.

“You (soldiers) will get more rewards and you would be applauded by your mother and sisters as brave sons,” Mushtaq said as protesters, also comprising a social activist and some people besides the families, shouted slogans in demand for “justice.”

Three youth 24-year-old Ajaz Maqbool Ganai from Putrigam Pulwama, 22-year-old Zubair Ahmad Lone from Turkawangam Shopian and Athar Muhstaq Wani from Bellow, Pulwama, were killed on December 31 at Lawaypora. Police have claimed that the trio were militants despite no case registered against them even as families have consistently rejected the claim.

“Bodies are properties of families as clearly elucidated in International and human rights laws. Why are you afraid of handing over dead bodies,” Angad Singh, a social activist from south Kashmir, told reporters.“See an Indian army soldier is not an angel and he can also make mistakes. We have seen what happened with three youth from Rajouri in (Amshipora) Shopian. You are media men, please tell me wasn’t it exposed later,” he said, “If they were involved in militancy, please prove to us. It is not the case that you have become court, judge and jury.”

He said that how can teenager Athar who had no case registered against him with police during a short life span of 16 years becomes a “hardcore over ground worker (OGW of militants)” within an hour and a half. “If there is any democracy, they have to answer. They can give tag of OGW to anyone. Prove the allegations,” the local activist said. “I am not a politician. I’m a human being and I came in support of these families,” he said, adding, “They (police) now say that Athar’s cousin was killed four years ago being a member of some armed group. How can it be justified to link Athar with him,” he said, adding, “Tell me how many (former) MLAs are in Kashmir whose brother, father or cousins were militants. “If this any justification, kill them also.” He said there are only two demands, one being investigate the case and handover the bodies.

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