Magisterial probe ordered into Srinagar’s Hyderpora encounter

The killing of businessmen, Altaf Bhat and Mudasir Gul, evoked sharp response from relatives and residents who claim they were innocent

Police initially claimed they were shot dead by terrorists, but later said they may have been killed in the crossfire. The police’s latest stand is that the two men were "terror associates". Pic: PTI

Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha has ordered a magisterial probe into Srinagar’s Hyderpora encounter recently which killed two terrorists and two businessmen, whom the security forces called “terror associates”.

“A magisterial inquiry by an officer of additional district magistrate rank has been ordered in the Hyderpora encounter. The government will take suitable action as soon as report is submitted in a time-bound manner. Jammu and Kashmir admin reiterates commitment of protecting lives of innocent civilians and it will ensure there is no injustice,” the office of the Lieutenant Governor tweeted on Thursday (November 18).

Altaf Bhat, who owned the complex in which the said encounter happened, and Mudasir Gul, who ran a computer shop in the same complex, were “terror associates”, said the Jammu and Kashmir police. However, this charge evoked sharp public response. Initially, the police said they were shot dead by terrorists, but then said they may have been killed in the crossfire. The police said both men were “terror associates” – a charge that provoked a furious reaction from family members and critics of the Jammu and Kashmir administration.

“We will look into the demands of the families. We are open to correction if anything has gone wrong. A police probe will also find out what went wrong,” Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police Dilbagh Singh told NDTV. “We will find out what happened in the Hyderpora encounter. We are for the safety of people and will not shy away from a probe,” Mr Singh said.

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Businessman Altaf Bhat and dental surgeon Mudasir Gul were killed during a controversial anti-terrorist operation in Hyderpora on Monday. Police initially claimed they were shot dead by terrorists, but later said they may have been killed in the crossfire. The police’s latest stand is that the two men were “terror associates”.

The families of Bhat and Gul, besides Amir Magray, whom the police called a “hybrid terrorist”, said it was a staged encounter. Gul, who was a dental surgeon by training, had employed Magray in his office.

Also read: Kashmiri separatist leader Geelani’s grandson sacked from govt job

Locals say that Magray used to speak openly against terrorists. He made headlines after killing a terrorist with a stone in 2005 and got an Indian Army citation for the same.

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said it was improper that the Jammu and Kashmir administration did not allow the families to conduct a peaceful sit-in protest.

“I have rarely seen families who have been wronged conduct themselves with such dignity. They have been reasonable in their demands & dignified in their conduct. The result of this is visible for all to see as the police drags them away in the dead of night,” Omar Abdullah said.

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