The Indian Army has found “prima facie evidence” that its personnel misused the powers conferred on them under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1990, during an encounter in Jammu and Kashmir’s Shopian district, according to a statement issued on Friday. Disciplinary proceedings under the Army Act have been initiated against the accused troops, it added.

The Army had launched a formal inquiry last month into the killing of three men by the armed forces on July 18. The family members of those killed had claimed that they were labourers, not militants, as labelled by the security forces. The Army had said it was recording testimonies of key witnesses and closely monitoring the investigation.

The accused personnel were also found in contravention of the do’s and don’ts of Chief of Army Staff as approved by the Supreme Court, the Army said in a statement.

“The evidence collected by the inquiry has prima-facie indicated that the three unidentified terrorists killed in Operation Amshipora were Imtiyaz Ahmed, Abrar Ahmed and Mohammad Ibrar, who hailed from Rajouri,” the statement said. “Their DNA report is awaited.” Their involvement with terrorism or related activities is under investigation by the police, it added. The Army also reiterated that it was committed to “ethical conduct of operations”.

Earlier on August 9, the families of the suspected militants had gone to a local police post with a missing persons complaint, saying that they last spoke to their kin on July 17, a day before the encounter. The complaint was lodged on August 10.

The families said they had waited before contacting the police. “We thought they might have been taken into quarantine in Shopian by the administration and that’s why they didn’t call us,” Hussain, a shepherd in Rajouri, told “We had heard the quarantine period is for 21 days.”

After the complaint of the missing persons was lodged with the police, the photos of the three youth went viral on social media. It purportedly showed the dead bodies of three “unidentified terrorists” allegedly killed in a gunfight with security forces in Shopian on July 18.

The Army had said it received “specific input by 62RR [Rashtriya Rifles] about the presence of terrorists” and launched a search operation based on it.

The bodies of the killed youth were buried after “medico-legal formalities including collection of their DNA,” a police statement had said. It added that the bodies of those slain could be claimed by their families after they come for identification, adding the kin could also participate in the last rites. However, no photographs were released at that time.

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