Srinagar: For 50-year-old Muhammad Yosouf, the wait for a DNA report has proven unending. The report will hold essential details on whether his son, 25-year-old Ibrar Ahmad, who went missing in southern Kashmir’s Shopian district in July this year was killed in what the Army has claimed was an encounter.
“We were told that the DNA test will come within a week. Nineteen days have passed after our blood samples were collected and there is no news about the DNA test,” says Yosouf.
His son and two young relatives, Imtiyaz Ahmad (22) and Muhammad Abrar (16), disappeared from their rented accommodation in Shopian on the night between July 17 and 18.
Twenty days later, on August 10, the families of the two young men and the child, say they discovered that the three ‘unidentified militants’ that the Army said it killed in a gunfight on July 18, were, in fact, the boys who had gone to Shopian to work as labourers.
On the basis of the families’ repeated claims, the government collected members’ blood samples on August 13 to match them with the samples collected from the alleged militants killed on July 18 at Amshipora in Shopian.
The DNA tests could also pave the way for the exhumation of the three boys’ bodies.
“Nobody is willing to give us a timeline when it comes to handing over the dead bodies to us. We want the dead bodies of our children, who were innocent and were killed in cold blood. If you can prove even remotely that they were militants or connected to militancy, I will facilitate and help you riddling their dead bodies with bullets,” Yosouf told The Wire over phone from Rajouri.
Shopian fake encounter : Admin waiting for bodies to decompose beyound recognition and we r waiting for families to forget that their sons ever existed. We failed you my brothers.
— Firdous Tak (@takfirdous) August 25, 2020
Muhammad Salim, a cousin of Imtiyaz Ahmad’s, accused the government of delaying the handover of bodies.
“If the government wants us to submit affidavits for claiming the bodies, we will do that,” he said.
Guftar Ahmad Choudhary, a local political activist who has been helping the families, said they have been running from pillar to post for the past 19 days.
“We met civilian and police authorities in Rajouri today [September 1] and they assured us that they will soon inform us about the DNA report,” said Choudhary.
Last pic of Imtiyaz Ahmed & Abrar Ahmed together who have been killed in Shopian on 18th July. Family is still waiting for DNA reports even after 17 days no update for officials. @JmuKmrPolice @adgpi & this is happening with a family who has given blood to country. #Shopian pic.twitter.com/klpIp4w5eB
— Guftar Ahmed (گفتار احمد) (@GuftarAhmedCh) August 30, 2020
Meanwhile, officials of Jammu & Kashmir police are tightlipped over the investigation of the case. “The matter is under investigation. I cannot tell you anything beyond that,” a senior police official posted in south Kashmir told The Wire when asked as to whether they have received the DNA report yet.
Last month, Inspector General of Police Kashmir Vijay Kumar had told media in Srinagar that police will investigate two aspects in the case.
“There are two aspects of the investigations. One is matching the DNA, and then we will also be investigating whether these youths, who had come to work in Kashmir, had any links with militants. We will be going through their call details and other technical aspects as well,” he had said.
The Army has also initiated an inquiry into this “encounter” carried out by troopers of 62 RR.
It issued an advertisement in newspapers last month asking people to provide information about the encounter. “Any person having any credible inputs/information on the encounter by Security Forces at village Amshipora, District Shopian dated 18 July 2020 may please contact Deputy GOC, HQ CIF(Victor) on 01933-247026 within the next 10 days. The identity & details of the person will be kept secret,” reads the advertisement.
Umer Maqbool is Srinagar-based freelance journalist. He can be contacted at [email protected].