Jammu and Kashmir Coordination of Civil Society (JKCCS) has said that in last two years, South Kashmir has witnessed an increased number of extrajudicial executions at the hands of armed forces.
In a statement, JKCCS said, “The district Shopian, where 44 Rashtriya Rifles of Indian Army is camped, has been accused of various killings of civilians. On 23 February 2017, 44 RR was involved in the killing of a civilian woman Jana Begum during an encounter in Chittargam in Shopian. On 24 January 2018, 44 RR killed one minor boy Shakir Ahmad Mir and one lady Saima Wani near an encounter site at Chaigund village of Shopian. Again on 27 January 2018, army personnel from 44 RR shot dead 3 civilians in Ganowpora area of Shopian. The police filed an FIR against Major Aditya of 44 RR (Garhwal Rifles). Yesterday, it was the same unit of 44 RR who have been accused of killing of 4 civilians and 2 militants allegedly in an encounter in Pahnoo area of Shopian.”
The locals have refuted the Army version and have said that the Army has killed the four civilians in a cold-blooded manner. In a span of one year, 44 RR stationed in Shopian is involved in the killing of at least 9 civilians in the district.
It is pertinent to note that following the killing of three civilians in Gonowpora on 27 January 2018, government next day said they have filed an FIR against the accused Major Aditya of 44 RR. However, the government in their status report filed before the Supreme Court said that they have not named Major Aditya in the FIR, following which the Supreme Court today stayed the investigation till 24 April.
According to the JKCCS, the killing of four civilians by the Indian Army’s 44 RR in Pahnoo area of Shopian district on 4 March is yet another instance of brutal and unbridled force used on civilians. These killings should be understood in the context of impunity enjoyed by the army generally and the specific emboldening which this particular army unity received in the form of moral and juridical impunity, when the Supreme Court stayed the FIR and there was a widespread support by Indian political parties and media for the accused.
The statement comes in the aftermath of killing of four civilians and two militants, who were killed in a firing incident in Shopian district on Sunday.
However, the Army has claimed that three civilians killed were ‘Over Ground Workers’ of the militants. An Army Spokesman claimed that militants, who were travelling in a vehicle in Pohan area of the district attacked a joint Mobile Vehicle Check Post, at 20:00 hours.
Another car was found near the site with a dead body inside. Later, a body of another militant was found in an apple orchard around 10 kilometers away from the site.
Opposition party National Conference demanded a probe into the Shopian killings where two militants and four militants were killed on Sunday late evening. On its official Twitter handle, NC wrote: “We are deeply shocked and grieved at the continued and unabated bloodshed in Kashmir.”
“The Shopian killings cannot be justified with an arbitrary, unproven pronouncement of the youth being OGWs. The circumstances and details should be probed and made public by the State Govt”.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday said that she was deeply distressed due to the civilian killings in Shopian.
The chief minister tweeted her condolences to the families of the people who were ‘caught in cross fire’.
Deeply distressed by more deaths of civilians caught in the crossfire in Shopian. My heartfelt condolences to the deceased’s families.
— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) March 5, 2018
In the aftermath of the blood bath in Shopian, a dead body of another civilian has been found, taking the death toll to five.