Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday referred to those who died in an encounter in Shopian on Sunday as “civilians caught in the crossfire”. The Indian Army had claimed that a terrorist and three of his accomplices – “overground workers” of militant groups – were killed in the firing.

Two more bodies were found on Monday morning, and the police said that one of those was that of a militant. However, unlike the Army, the police had referred to the four people killed on Sunday as “a militant and three individuals who were accompanying him”. The police said the militant belonged to Lashkar-e-Taiba.

“Deeply distressed by more deaths of civilians caught in the crossfire in Shopian,” Mufti tweeted. Local residents too have claimed that the other three men were civilians who were only travelling in the car with the militant, Greater Kashmir reported.

The gunfight took place around 8 pm on Sunday in Shopian’s Pohan area. The Army said terrorists fired on a vehicle checkpost after which the security forces retaliated.

The Opposition party in the state, National Conference, sought an investigation into the incident, and said the report should be made public. It also said the deaths could not be justified by calling the people overground workers of militant groups.

“We are deeply shocked and grieved at the continued and unabated bloodshed in Kashmir,” a party spokesperson said, according to PTI. “The Shopian killings cannot be justified with an arbitrary, unproven pronouncement of the youth being OGWs.”

Separatist leader detained

The police on Monday detained Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front Chairman Yasin Malik after he tried to protest against the deaths in Shopian. He and his supporters tried to march towards Lal Chowk, but were taken into preventive custody, PTI reported.