Hyderpora encounter: Familes of civilians killed in gunfight slam police, claim deceased were innocent
Meanwhile, Inspector General of Police Kashmir zone Vijay Kumar said the bodies of the four slain men were buried in the early hours of Tuesday in Handwara area of Kupwara district to avoid law and order problems in the city
Police on Tuesday said businessman Mohammad Altaf Bhat was killed in the "cross-firing" between militants and security forces at Hyderpora, but he would be counted as a "harbourer of terrorists" as he did not inform authorities about the tenants in his building.
Altaf Bhat was among the four, including a Pakistani terrorist and his local associate, killed in the gunfight in Hyderpora locality of Srinagar late Monday evening.
"Altaf was killed in the cross-firing with the terrorists. Let the postmortem report come and we will come to know who fired the bullet that killed him," Inspector General of Police Kashmir zone Vijay Kumar told reporters in Srinagar. "If the bullet is from pistol it would mean terrorists have killed him and a bullet fired an AK rifle would mean he was killed by security forces. A probe will establish that" he said.
Even though he expressed regret over Altaf Bhat's killing, Kumar said the deceased would be counted among the "harbourers" of militants.
"He had kept tenants and police had no information about it. The responsibility of the owner does not end with renting out the place. He should also check once in a while as to what is happening there," the IGP said.
Kumar said Mudassir Gul, the fourth person was a militant associate who had provided his rented space in Bhat's building to militants for carrying out subversive activities. He identified the slain militants as Bilal Bhai alias Haider and Aamir Magray, a resident of Banihal.
"Mudasir had brought the terrorists from Jamalatta, where one of our cops suffered injuries in the neck during an encounter with terrorists, in his own car and dropped them at Hyderpora," he said.
The IGP said Gul was operating an illegal call centre from the rented premises.
"We have recovered computers, mobile phones, maps of the USA and other material. A special investigation team has been formed to investigate further," he said, adding the findings will be made public in due course.
Kumar said security forces tried their best to evacuate Bhat and Gul but could not save them "as the situation was bad". Kumar last night had said the house-owner was working as terror associate.
"The house owner who was injured in terrorist fire, succumbed to his injuries. #Terrorists have been hiding on top floor of his building. As per source and digital evidence, he has been working as #terror associate. Search is still going on," Kumar tweeted.
However, the family claimed that Bhat had no links to militancy. Saima Bhat, niece of the deceased tweeted:
You killed my innocent uncle Mohammad Altaf Bhat in cold blooded murder In Hyderpora, you used him as human shield and now saying he was “OGW”. return us his body @JmuKmrPolice @SrinagarPolice @IGP
— saimabhat (@saimabhat) November 15, 2021
Bhat's teenage daughter pleaded with authorities to return her father's body.
Gul's family also claimed innocence and urged authorities to hand over his body to them for final rites. The family of Gul held a protest at Press Enclave in Srinagar to demand his body. "He left from his home yesterday morning. When we called him in the evening his phone was switched off. We just want his dead body. He was innocent. He has two young kids. We want justice," said his sister.
She said that Mudasir would mostly stay in Delhi. "He had arrived from Jammu just day before yesterday. Whatever is being said about him (by the police) is not true," she said.
Kumar said the bodies of the four slain men were buried in the early hours on Tuesday in Handwara area of Kupwara district to avoid any law and order problems in the city. The IGP said the identity of the two militants was being verified.
Meanwhile, the PDP has demanded speedy investigation into the matter. The party tweeted:
These allegations are grave and merit speedy investigation. Least @JmuKmrPolice could do is handover the dead body to the family for a decent burial. Are even dead ones a threat to peace now? https://t.co/QEE4mLlpVj
— J&K PDP (@jkpdp) November 15, 2021
People's Conference leader Sajad Lone also demanded a probe into the incident.
"In the midst of conflicting claims in the Hyderpora encounter the least we deserve is a transparent description of what happened by a neutral institution. This is neither the first time nor the last time. Manoj Sinha- you have the opportunity to assert that human lives matter," Lone said.
On Monday four people, including two militants, were killed in an encounter between the ultras and security forces in Hyderpora area in Srinagar. The encounter had broken out near the Classic Hospital when security forces launched an anti-militancy operation. One of the deceased is a civilian identified as businessman Mohammad Altaf Bhat, 44, a resident of Old Barzulla locality. Bhat owned a hardware store and a cement dealership near the scene of the encounter.
With inputs from agencies
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