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‘No One Becomes a Terrorist Between Lunchtime and Dinner’: Fog of Blood & Lies Veils Srinagar Encounter Truth

The Facebook web page he left behind is a sort of Generation-Z ode to Narcissus, son of the river god Cephissus and the nymph Liriope, who fell in love along with his personal reflection: A delicate stream of selfies of a younger man with excellent hair and pores and skin, bearing little resemblance to the battered physique of Ather Mushtaq Wani, riddled via with bullets in an trade of fireplace with the Indian Army.

There’s one image, although, that stands out: Wani posing with slain Hizb-ul-Mujahideen operative Rayees Ahmad Wani, “my cousin my lyf”.

Ather Wani along with his cousin, high Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander Rayees Wani

Families of the three younger males shot on Srinagar’s outskirts earlier than daybreak on Wednesday —Aijaz Maqbool Ganie, from Putrigam in Pulwama, Zubair Lone, from Turkwangan close to Shopian, and Wani, from the village of Belov, close to Pulwama — allege their sons have been killed in chilly blood. The Army insists its troops have been fired on, and claims not less than two of the boys labored for a Lashkar-e-Taiba linked jihadist group.

Like a lot else in Kashmir, the reality of precisely what occurred within the Srinagar suburb of Hokersar is veiled by a wierd fog of blood and lies.

As per the testimony of Ganie’s mom, her son, simply out of college, left for Srinagar at 11am on Tuesday to submit admission varieties at Kashmir University. Ganie phoned once more, the household says, simply after 3pm to say he’d want one other day to complete his work on the University, and return the subsequent day. The household says it assumed he would stick with mates or family.

Like Ganie, Wani — whose final Facebook put up data his commencement from highschool — left dwelling saying he was submitting university-entrance varieties. The household says he left alone, and didn’t point out plans to remain at dwelling.

Zubair Lone, for his half, was at dwelling till lunchtime on Tuesday, a neighbour instructed Information18. “He worked as a carpenter at construction sites,” the neighbour mentioned. “So when he didn’t return that night, no one was worried. The family assumed he’d found work somewhere.”

The three males, police sources instructed Information18, weren’t named in First Information Reports related to terrorist exercise, nor questioned in reference to previous investigations into jihadist networks. Ganie’s father, Muhammad Maqbool Ganie, is a police officer stationed within the central Kashmir district of Ganderbal.

“No one becomes a terrorist between lunchtime and dinner,” Lone’s neighbour mentioned. “We’d have known if he was involved in something.”

Kashmir police and intelligence officers disagree.

Local residents had massed on Belov’s streets in the summertime of 2017, to mourn the killing of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen jihadist Rayees Ahmad Wani — broadly recognized by his nickname ‘Kachroo’ or ‘brown-hair’. Thousands watched as Wani’s physique, draped in a Pakistani flag, was marched to the graveyard; some fought for the privilege of kissing the physique of man they believed to be a martyr. Hizb-ul-Mujahideen jihadists fired weapons because the physique was lowered into its grave.

In the months that adopted, a senior Jammu and Kashmir police officer instructed Information18, Ather Mushtaq was drawn into the networks of The Resistance Front — a Lashkar-e-Taiba led group that has turn into more and more energetic in Kashmir.

Led by Kasur-based jihadist Sajid Saifullah Jatt — whose deserted son, Umar Rather, lives in Damdullah, not removed from Belov — the TRF has funnelled rising portions of explosives and arms throughout the Line of Control, permitting it to stage a number of assassinations and execution-style killings.

Ganie and Wani, the Army claims, had been tasked in latest weeks with staging a strike towards navy convoys transferring alongside Srinagar’s suburbs. Their safehouse in Hokersar, an official press launch states, was cordoned off by troops of the Indian Army’s 2 Rashtriya Rifles late on Tuesday night time, primarily based on particular intelligence of the plot.

From inside the home, the Army says, the three males first threw a grenade on the troops, after which opened fireplace with an assault rifle. The firefight went on fitfully via the night time, the Army says, ending at 11:30am on Wednesday. A single Kalashnikov assault rifle and two pistols have been recovered from the safe-house — recoveries typical of the comparatively thinly armed jihadist cells which have emerged via 2020.

Weapon recovered from encounter web site at Hokesar

“Lone, who we believe was the most recent recruit to the group, tried to respond to our repeated appeals for the terrorists to surrender,” an officer conversant in the operations instructed Information18. “He just couldn’t make it out, though, because the other two fired on him.”

Tuesday’s shootout happened beneath the poisonous shadow of the killings of three Shopian residents, allegedly handed off as terrorists by Captain Bhupinder Singh of the 62 Rashtriya Rifles and two of the unit’s native informants, Bilal Ahmad and Tabish Ahmad. Lieutenant-Governor Manoj Sinha and XV Corps Commander Lieutenant-General BS Raju’s determination to aggressively prosecute the case towards the rogue officer marked a landmark break with a long-standing tradition of impunity.

Even although the military and police’s account of what occurred at Hokersar is much from implausible, little proof has to this point been launched to assist it — fuelling fears they could have been victims of an analogous extra-judicial execution.

There has been no clarification, for instance, of why the intelligence companies and police —understanding, by the official account, that Ganie and Wani had Lashkar hyperlinks — didn’t search to arrest the boys as they travelled to Srinagar. There’s been no disclosure, both, of the proof suggesting the three males have been linked to the Lashkar.

For the households of the three slain males — and plenty of others throughout Kashmir — the shortage of a transparent account of what occurred signifies their sons have been kidnapped and killed.

Killings of terrorists have risen considerably in 2020 over 2019, lots of these new recruits to jihadist teams, thinly armed and with no navy coaching. The authorities has, in latest weeks, moved to encourage trapped terrorists to give up. Few encounters have been adopted by the discharge of proof on the involvement of the victims in terrorism — stoking anger amongst communities throughout southern Kashmir.

“The obsession with kill-counts,” a senior police officer argued, “has profoundly damaged India’s interests in Kashmir”. “The thinking has been that killing new recruits will deter recruitment into jihadist groups, but the data suggests that our policies are having the opposite outcome.”

Police officers conversant in the Hokesar shootings insist no wrongdoing was achieved. “We have cellphone records which track the movements of the three men through Tuesday,” one mentioned, “which will make clear what route they travelled, when they met, and where they went. There are wiretaps and source reports.”

“The only lies here are the ones the boys told their kin,” the officer insisted, “and those lies eventually claimed their lives.”

Few in southern Kashmir appear prepared to consider the official case. “Tell us why our son was killed,” Ganie’s grandfather, Bashir Ahmad, mentioned on Wednesday. “If they can’t, let them send the Army and kill us all at home.”

The entire story must be instructed — and it’s in India’s pursuits to inform it transparently.

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