Kashmiri family claims slain son wasn’t militant, killed in “fake gunfight”

On Thursday, Indian forces killed two Kashmiri men in Dragad, Shopian. Authorities claimed the slain men were “militants” killed in an “encounter”.

But the family of one of the slain, Shakir Ahmad Wani, claims he has been on “his way to the court” but “murdered” by forces in a “staged gunfight”.

“He left home at around 9.30 for a court hearing at the district court of Pulwama for a case related to his work,” says Mohammad Rafiq Wani, Shakir’s brother.

“How can a person turn militant in a matter of hours when everything was going smoothly in his life?”Where did he get himself trained in hours? Police should investigate the case properly and provide us with the proof,” Rafiq told Maktoob.

On October 11, Imtiaz Ahmad Kakroo from Shahgund village of Bandipora was killed in an encounter. While the police claimed that Imtiaz was involved in militancy, his family disputed the police claims.

the news of Shakir’s killing has upset the village. People poured in to pay their respects and solidarity. In the ensuing encounter, the other militant was later identified as Adil Hussain Wani from Shirmal, Shopian.

“The death of Shakir has left the whole area in a shock and has sent the chilling effect across the whole area.  He was such a nice guy,  getting killed like this one feels unimaginable despair with each passing day in Kashmir,” says Sajad, Shakir’s neighbour.

The Wani family of Litter, Pulwama, were in the construction business. Shakir, a tractor driver, was booked with some cases related to mining. He was supposed to appear in court that day.

“At around 11 am I called him. The phone rang but nobody received it. Then it was switched off. then in the afternoon, we received the news of his death,” laments Rafiq.

“I have not only lost my brother but a protector and confidant with whom I have shared many memories. It’s tragic such things should not happen, his death in such a way will haunt me till my life”.

According to police, after receiving the specific input regarding the presence of militants in the Dragad area of Shopian, a joint cordon and search operation was launched by police, 44RR and 178 Bn CRPF. During the search operation, they began gunfights with militants.

Tensions have escalated following civilian killings in the valley. 12 civilians have been killed in Kashmir this month.

“Shakir had a court hearing on Wednesday was supposed to be present before additional session judge in Pulwama court. He called me at around 9:30 am to confirm the timing of his hearing. But he never reached the court,” says Rayees Qadri who was handling the case of slain Shakir.

“He never had any inclination towards militancy,” Qadri added.

Senior superintendent of police Shopian, Amrit Pal, declined to comment on our questions.

Many families in the past have claimed their kins were killed in fake encounters, dubbed as militants. About 10 such cases were reported in Kashmir within a year.

According to Kashmir Walla, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Vijay Kumar claimed that Shakir was an Over Ground Worker and had joined militant ranks recently and was in a category C of militants. According to a press statement, both the killed militants were involved in several “terror crime cases including civilian atrocities.”