The bodies of three labourers killed in an encounter in Shopian district on July 18 will be handed over to the families after exhuming them and following due process, Inspector General of Police (Kashmir Range) Vijay Kumar said on Wednesday, the Kashmir Observer reported.

The families of the deceased – Abrar Ahmed, Imtiyaz Ahmed and Mohammed Ibrar – have sought immediate arrest and conviction of those responsible for the incident. On July 18, the security forces had said that they received specific inputs about the presence of militants in the area, after which they began the operation. They also said that the suspected militants had allegedly opened fire at the security forces.

Earlier in the day, the Shopian chief judicial magistrate remanded two civilians, who were being questioned in the case, to seven-day police custody. Unidentified officials told the newspaper that the two civilians worked as “informers” of the Indian Army and were suspects in the killing that took place in Amshipora. A third suspect in the case, who is detained, has not been arrested.

On September 26, the three had deposed before the Army Court of Inquiry. Unidentified officials said they were the last ones in contact with the three youth killed in July.

The Army had said on September 18 that it had found prima facie evidence that its personnel misused powers under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1990, in the episode. It launched a formal inquiry into the deaths of the three men last month.

On Monday, the army began the Summary of Evidence, which is a step before a possible court martial, in the case.

Last week, the police had said that the deoxyribonucleic acid samples of the three men had matched with those of their parents in Rajouri district. Their families had claimed that they were labourers, not militants, as labelled by the security forces.