Hyderpora Civilian Deaths: Weeks Later, SIT Issues Clean Chit to Security Forces

Two civilians were killed during an encounter between the security forces and terrorists in Srinagar in November.

3 min read

Weeks after two civilians were killed during an encounter between the security forces and terrorists in Hyderpora, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Jammu and Kashmir Police on Tuesday, 28 December, said that the men had been killed by the terrorists or had been used as human shields by them.

Four people, including two civilians, were killed by the police and the security forces in an encounter in Srinagar's Hyderpora on 15 November. The two civilians, Dr Mudasir Gul and Altaf Bhat, had owned shops in the commercial complex where the encounter had taken place.

The loss of civilian lives in the encounter conducted by the security forces had elicited condemnation.

However, the head of the SIT, DIG Sujith K Singh, has issued a clean chit to the security personnel.

“Our investigation so far has revealed that Dr Mudasir Gul was killed by the foreign terrorist hiding inside the building as his body was recovered from the attic. The security forces did not go to the attic at all during searches or subsequent operation.”
DIG Sujith K Singh, as quoted by news agency PTI.

Further, the police said that another civilian and a local militant, Amir Magray, had been killed in the crossfire as they were being used as human shields by the terrorist.

“Mohammad Altaf Bhat (building owner) and Amir were killed in the crossfire with security forces as they were used as a human shield by the foreign terrorist. It is substantiated by the fact the Altaf fell (after being hit by bullets) outside the door, while Amir had managed to run few more steps and the foreign terrorist’s body was found 83 feet away,” DIG Singh was quoted as saying by PTI.

Magray was closely associated with the foreign terrorist, Bilal Bhai, who was neutralised by the forces, as per the SIT probe.

DIG Singh also claimed that Bhat and Gul had volunteered to search the building to help security forces during the operation, and had refrained from telling the forces about the presence of militants in the premises, as per NDTV.

While the police has claimed that all three – Bhat, Gul and Amir Magray – were associated with terrorists, their families had denied the accusation.

"SIT's Clear Chit a Cover Up': Mehbooba Mufti

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti stated that the findings of the SIT prove were meant to cover up a botched security operation.

"SIT’s clean chit to armed forces in Hyderpora encounter isn’t surprising. It was purely a charade to cover up a botched up operation & absolve those culpable for killing innocent civilians. How can one expect justice when they themselves are judge, jury & executioner?" she tweeted.

'Probe Not Over Yet'

On Wednesday, 30 December, the J&K SIT said that the probe is not yet over and issued a warning against politicians and social media users for 'speculating' the events and questioning the SIT's findings.

The death of the two civilians had sparked outrage on social media, with politicians, family members of the slain civilians and others accusing the SIT of 'concocting a cover-up' and calling the shootout a 'staged encounter'.

According to a report by The Times of India, the SIT head and central Kashmir DIG Sujith K Singh said that penal action will be taken against those who raise suspicions over the probe team's investigation on social media.

He said, "Such speculative statements from political leaders have a tendency to create a provocation, rumour, fear and alarm among the general masses or particular section of society," in a statement, as per NDTV.

"This approach is against the law and may attract appropriate penal provisions," he added.

(With inputs from PTI and NDTV)

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