Parties Call for Probe as J&K Police Says 'Hybrid' Militant Died While Aiding Security Forces

Imran Bashir Ganie, a ‘hybrid’ militant of Lashkar-e-Toiba, was arrested by J&K Police on October 18. He was leading security forces to a hideout when the team was allegedly fired upon.

Srinagar: A controversy has broken out in Jammu and Kashmir where political parties are demanding an impartial probe into the death of an alleged ‘hybrid’ militant from Shopian, who was killed reportedly during an anti-militancy operation.

Imran Bashir Ganie, a ‘hybrid’ militant of Lashkar-e-Toiba, was arrested by J&K Police on Tuesday, October 18, for his alleged involvement in the killing of two migrant workers from Uttar Pradesh in Harmain village of Shopian a day earlier.

‘Hybrid’ militant is a reference used by J&K Police to describe the unknown associates of militants who play a crucial role in sustaining what officials term as the ‘terror ecosystem’ of Kashmir by providing logistics and even carrying out attacks at the behest of militants.

Imran Bashir Ganie. Photo: By arrangement

According to data accessed by Article 14, more than 70% of civilians killings carried out in Kashmir in the last 20 months have been blamed by police on ‘hybrid’ militants. However, the families of slain ‘hybrid’ militants deny the allegations.

In a statement on Wednesday, the J&K police said that Imran, a resident of Harmain, was “leading” a team of security forces to a militant hideout in Shopian at about 2:30 am. “During the search operation, the hiding terrorists fired upon the joint search party, in which the arrested hybrid terrorist…got injured. He was shifted to hospital where he was declared brought dead,” the police statement said

However the statement said that the militants who fired at Imran managed to escape “due to darkness.”

“Incriminating materials, arms and ammunition have been recovered from the spot. All the recovered materials have been taken into case records for further investigation,” the statement added.

This is not the first time that a suspected militant has been killed in the custody of J&K Police. Last year on June 29, Nadeem Abrar, a suspected Lashkar-e-Toiba commander, was killed in a similar search operation in Srinagar’s Parimpora locality

Abrar was arrested by J&K Police a day earlier and police said he was accompanying a search party to a hideout during which a Pakistani militant, who was also later gunned down, fired indiscriminately at the search party, wounding Abrar and three security personnel. Abrar later succumbed to injuries, police said.

In August this year, a Pakistani Lashkar-e-Toiba militant, Mohammad Ali Hussain alias ‘Qasim’ alias ‘Jehangir’ who was incarcerated at the Kot Bhalwal jail in Jammu, was killed in retaliatory fire when he allegedly snatched the rifle of a policeman and fired at a team of security personnel, according to police. Qasim was leading a team of security forces to a hideout near the International Border in Jammu region. A cop was also injured in the shootout.

Last month, a suspected militant from PoK, Tabarak Hussain, succumbed at an army hospital days after he was grievously shot and wounded by security forces. Security forces had claimed that he was sent on a suicide missing on an Indian Army post in Jammu’s Rajouri district and died of cardiac arrest at the hospital.

The latest killing has triggered an uproar in Kashmir where the political parties have raised doubts about the veracity of the police claims. Hundreds of people, including civilians, have died while in police custody over the past three decades of insurgency in Kashmir. Human rights activists term the incidents as extrajudicial killings.

Demanding an impartial probe into the Shopian killing, Mehbooba Mufti, former Chief Minister of J&K said that the security situation has deteriorated in Kashmir, “In the name of hybrid militancy, Imran Ganie was arrested and then we are told that he was killed by militants while in custody of police. If militants can kill in police custody, how are common people going to be safe,” the Peoples Democratic Party president said.

Condemning the killing of migrant labourers, Mehbooba added: “There are allegations that it is the ‘catch-and-kill’ policy which was followed in Punjab where youngsters would get killed in police custody. We demand an impartial probe into the circumstances that led to Imran’s death. We have fears that as the assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh come closer, the atmosphere in Kashmir would be vitiated so that the BJP can exploit the Hindu-Muslim game it has been playing even more,” she said.

The National Conference’s Lok Sabha parliamentarian and former J&K high vourt judge, Hasnain Masoodi, said that the government must carry out an “independent and impartial probe” into the killing of Imran. “Civilian killings call for outright condemnation and cannot be condoned on any ground whatsoever,” he said in a tweet, referring to the killing of two migrant labourers in Shopian.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) state secretary Ghulam Nabi Malik also demanded an investigation into the killing. “It is widely perceived that the said person had not been involved in any unlawful activity,” Malik said, according to PTI.