Shopian family claims slain son wasn’t militant; Police say ‘involved in killings’

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Srinagar: Hours after the Jammu and Kashmir police claimed to have killed two militants in south Kashmir’s Shopian district, family members of one of the deceased pleading his innocence said that their kin was on his way to a court hearing when the gunfight took place.
Shakir Ahmad Wani was a tractor driver, as per the family, was on way to court for his hearing in a case related to his work. After the gunfight on Wednesday, the police said that two militants were killed in the Dragad area of Sugan hamlet in Shopian district.
However, negating the police version, Shakir’s brother, Mohammad Yousuf Wani told The Kashmir Walla that the family didn’t believe that their kin was involved in any militancy related incidents.
“My brother was driving a tractor to earn his livelihood. Today also he was at his work at a Nallah (river stream) till 9 am,” Wani said.
Wani said that around 9:30 am, Shakir left for a court hearing about a case related to his work at a Pulwama court.
“We were busy harvesting at our paddy field, when someone told us that Shakir had been killed in an encounter in Shopian,” Wani said. “Initially, we didn’t believe it. But then the news of his killing starts pouring from all directions.”
However, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Vijay Kumar told The Kashmir Walla that Shakir was an Over Ground Worker (OGW) and was arrested earlier also.
“He had recently joined the militant ranks,” said Kumar. “He belonged to the same village where a non-local carpenter was killed. After committing the crime both the militants shifted from Litter to Dragad Shopian. He [Shakir] was in a C category list of militants.”
His brother, Wani, said that after getting the confirmation of Shakir’s killing, they [family] rushed to the encounter site, but the police had already taken away his body.
“We then travelled to PCR Srinagar, but there we were told that Shakir will be buried in Kupwara. So, we all (family) are on our way to attend his funeral,” Wani said, while he was driving towards north Kashmir.
“If my brother was affiliated with militancy, why weren’t the police looking for him. He was at home all the time,” Wani said.
As per the police, after receiving a specific input  regarding the presence of militants in Dragad area of Shopian, a joint cordon and search operation was launched by police, 44RR and  178 Bn CRPF in the area.
“During the search operation, as the presence of militants got ascertained, they were given repeated opportunities to surrender, instead they fired indiscriminately upon the joint search party which retaliated leading to an encounter,” the statement reads.
The statement reads that in the encounter, two militants were killed and their bodies were retrieved from the site of encounter.
“They have been identified as Adil Hussain Wani son of Ghulam Hussain Wani resident of Shirmal, District Commander Shopian of proscribed terror outfit LeT (TRF) and Shakir Ahmad Wani son of Ghulam Qadir Wani resident of Litter Pulwama,” it said.  
The statement reads that both the killed militants were involved in several “terror crime cases including civilian atrocities.”
“Terrorist Adil Ahmad was active since July-2020 and was involved in several terror crime cases including the recent killing of one poor carpenter Sageer Ahmad Ansari of Saharanpur UP at Litter Pulwama on 16 October 2021,” police said.
Rayees Qadri, Shakir’s lawyer, confirmed The Kashmir Walla that he had a court hearing on Wednesday and was supposed to be present before an additional session’s judge in Pulwama court in the afternoon.
“He (Shakir) was on anticipatory bail in a case under 269 IPC. So, he called me at 9:30 am to confirm the timing of his hearing. I told him to reach the court by 11 am,” Qadri said.
Qadri said that around 10:30 am his colleague from the court called him that Shakir had not arrived yet, so he dialed his phone number to know about his whereabouts.
“I called him many times. His phone was ringing but nobody picked it up. Then I called his family, but they told me that he has left for the court,” Qadri said. “It was in the afternoon that I came to know about his killing in an encounter.”
Meanwhile, police said that during the exchange of fire three army personnel sustained bullet injuries, while one among them Sepoy Karanveer Singh later succumbed in the hospital.

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