Peoples Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti on Thursday said that political parties’ statements on the Special Investigation Team’s inquiry into last month’s Hyderpora gunfight in Kashmir were not “mere speculation”.
“They [the statements] are grounded in facts,” she said in a tweet. “The administration’s aversion and discomfort with truth coming to the fore is well-known. Bullying us into silence by ‘penal action’ warnings won’t work.”
The Jammu and Kashmir Police on Wednesday had warned the residents and politicians for making “speculative statements” about the investigation into the gunfight.
The officers had said that they had come across several posts by political leaders and family members, expressing doubt about the evidence collected during the investigation. “These people have tried to call it ‘Concocted Cover up Story’, ‘Ornamental Probe’, ‘Clean Chit to Killers’, ‘Fairy Tale of Police’ etc,” the statement read.
The statement was released a day after the Special Investigation Team constituted by the police absolved the members of the security forces of any wrongdoing in the gunfight.
Four people were killed in an operation carried out by armed forces personnel at a commercial complex in Hyderpora on November 15. The killed persons included a Pakistani militant identified by the police as Haider, hardware shop owner Mohammad Altaf Bhat, dentist-turned-entrepreneur Mudasir Gul and Amir Ahmed Magray, who worked in Gul’s office.
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Their bodies were not handed over to their families. On November 16, they were buried in a graveyard in north Kashmir, far from Srinagar.
The police had claimed Magray was also a militant and Bhat and Gul were “terror associates”. They later amended their statement to say Bhat was merely the building owner, but Gul had facilitated the escape of a militant.
The families of Bhat, Gul and Magray have rejected the police’s claims that they were involved in militancy. Their death, they alleged, was a “cold-blooded murder”. The families also accused the security forces of using them as human shields in a staged gunfight.
After much public outrage, the bodies of Bhat and Gul were exhumed and handed back to their families. The police also set up a Special Investigation Team to probe the incident.
The team on Tuesday held a press briefing on the findings in the case. It cited prima facie evidence to say that Gul was shot dead by the militant “on the directions possibly from across [Pakistan]”.
During the gunfight, Bhat “was used as a human shield by the militant and was killed in a crossfire”, the police said.
The police released the findings of the team even as the report of the magisterial inquiry ordered by the Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha is yet to be made public.