- Army said they were planning a major terror strike
- Cops said one of the three was a relative of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist
- The police denied the allegations of the families
Hours after security forces claimed three terrorists were shot dead on the outskirts of Srinagar on Wednesday, the families of those killed alleged that "innocent" young people including the son of a police officer have been killed in a "staged encounter", and passed off as terrorists. One of them is a Class 11 student, the family said.
The Army said they were planning a major terror strike on Srinagar-Baramulla Highway. "We were getting regular inputs that terrorists were planning some major strike. Yesterday, when we received information, we cordoned off the building and appealed to them to surrender. One terrorist tried to come out but his associates inside resorted to firing and threw grenades towards security forces," said Major General HS Sahi, General Officer Commanding (GOC) Kilo Force.
The Jammu and Kashmir Police tried to distance itself from the encounter and said that Army carried out the operation and they eventually rushed to the spot. In a statement, the police said all the three were terrorists, but were not listed as terrorists in police records.
"Although the three killed terrorists in today's encounter were not mentioned in our list of terrorists, yet two of them are hardcore associates of terrorists (OGWs)," the police said in the statement.
The police use the term "OGW" or "over-ground worker" for any person they suspect to have links with terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir.
The police said one of the three was a relative of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Rayees Kachroo, who was killed in 2017.
Those killed in Wednesday's encounter have been identified as Ajaz Maqbool Ganie and Ather Mushtaq, residents of Pulwama, and Zubair Lone, a resident of Shopian. Ajaz Maqbool Ganie is the son of policeman who is posted in Ganderbal district, according to his relatives.
The Srinagar encounter took place just four days after the police filed a chargesheet against an Army Captain and two others for killing three innocent men in Shopian and passed them as Pakistani terrorists in July.
A court of inquiry by the Army has also indicted the soldiers for killing the innocent men. After the encounter, a Brigadier level officer of Army had claimed they killed terrorists were planning a major terror strike in Shopian and they found weapons at the site of the encounter. The investigation later found that weapons were planted by the troops on the bodies of three labourers.
After Wednesday's encounter, the police said security forces recovered an assault rifle and two pistols at the site of encounter
The police denied the allegations of the families, claiming the families don't know about the activities of their children. "Generally, parents don't have idea about the activities of their wards. Several OGWs after committing terror crimes like grenade throwing and pistol shooting stay normally with their family," the police statement said.
The families said the men left home just a day before the encounter. They protested outside the police control room in Srinagar. They said two of the three were students who had come to Srinagar for admission in an institution.
"They were present at home till yesterday. How come they turned terrorists overnight and were killed in encounter?" said a relative of one of the men.
The National Conference and the People's Democratic Party have demanded a probe.