New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Hours after the Jammu and Kashmir Police claimed that three terrorists were killed on the outskirts of Srinagar, families of the slain youths said they had no connection with militancy and that two of them were students.

The families from south Kashmir's Pulwama and Shopian districts also staged a protest outside the police control room in Srinagar and claimed that of those killed, one was a Class 11 student, one a university student and the other a carpenter.

According to the police, while one terrorist was killed in the early hours of Wednesday, two others were shot dead a few hours later.

Reacting to the claims made by the families, a police spokesperson said, "Generally parents don't have idea about the activities of their wards. Several OGWs (overground workers) after committing terror crimes like grenade throwing and shooting, among others, stay normally with their family."

Though the three killed terrorists "were not mentioned in our list of terrorists, yet two of them are hardcore associates of terrorists (OGWs)", the spokesman said, adding that of the two, one was a relative of top Hizbul Mujahideen commander Rayees Kachroo, who was killed in 2017.

He said it is suspected that the third might have joined militant ranks very recently. The spokesman said police is investigating the case and after a "thorough probe, will come to a conclusion on merits".

The three militants were killed in the overnight encounter in the Parimpora area of the city. Militants had opened fire on security forces during a cordon and search operation on Tuesday evening, he said.

The protesting families have claimed that the youths were their kin and had no connection with militants or militancy.

The slain youths were Athar Mushtaq and Aijaz Maqbool, both students, and Zubair Ahmad, a carpenter, said the families, but did not disclose how old they were.

"My brother left for university at 11 am yesterday (Tuesday) as he had to fill some form there. He called me at 3.01 pm to say that he might have to stay at the university. Today, we got a call that he has been killed. He was not a militant," Maqbool's sister told reporters.

Maqbool is the son of policeman who is posted in Ganderbal district, she said.

A relative of Mushtaq also made a similar claim and said he was just a teenager studying in Class 11.

An army official said the slain youths were "hardcore terrorists" who used a lot of ammunition and grenades against the security forces during the encounter.

"We made several appeals to the youths to surrender. One of them was about to leave the building but his colleagues fired and hurled grenades at security forces and pulled him back yesterday. In the morning, we again made appeals to them to surrender but we realised that they were not going to surrender," the official said.

"The quantity of ammunition they used makes it clear that they were planning to carry out a major terror strike in the area," the army official added.

Mufti, NC demand probe

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti demanded that the Jammu and Kashmir administration come clean on the allegations of a fake encounter in Parimpora area of the city and the National Conference sought a time-bound inquiry into the circumstances leading to the killing of three people in the encounter.

"Worrying that in the past few months after the Shopian fake encounter other families too in J-K have alleged that their sons were innocent and killed in a staged encounter. Authorities need to come clean on this," Mufti tweeted about the Parimpora encounter.

National Conference additional spokesperson Sarah Shah said the versions of people and family pertaining to the killing of the three at an encounter site in Srinagar suburb are contradictory.

"Therefore, the situation necessitates the constitution of a fact-finding team that could reveal the circumstances... The police version is that the three were militants who refused to surrender during the gunfight and were killed, but the version of families of the slain is contradictory to that of the police version," she said.

Shah said it is for the government to clear the ambiguity surrounding the deaths.

"We have been hearing from government quarters that there would be zero tolerance for human rights violations but on ground such high-pitched claims emanating from government stand debunked in wake of such killings.

"Therefore we demand a thorough inquiry into the incident on behalf of my party. I also take this opportunity to express my unison with the bereaved families in their hour of grief and pain," she said.

(With PTI inputs)

Posted By: Abhinav Gupta