Srinagar, India, Dec 23, (EFE).- Three civilians were found dead with visible torture marks on their bodies hours after they were rounded up by the army for questioning about a militant attack in Poonch area of Indian administered Kashmir on Saturday.
While officials described the deaths as “mysterious,” local residents termed them as “custodial killings.”
Locals alleged that the Indian army detained at least eight civilians on Friday for questioning, a day after a militant ambush killed five Indian soldiers and wounded two in the Thanamandi area of the frontier district.
The three bodies of the civilians – identified as Safeer Hussain (43), Mohammad Showkat (27) and Shabir Ahmad (32), all residents of Topa Peer village – were found near the gunfight site early Saturday.
According to local residents, armed personnel killed the three civilians at a nearby military camp and later threw their bodies near the site of the gunfight.
Locals who saw the dead bodies told EFE that the bodies bore marks of severe torture.
Moreover, they claimed that the other five who had been detained by the security forces had also been tortured and were undergoing medical treatment.
Internet services have been suspended in Poonch and Rajouri districts after torture videos of detained civilians went viral on social media.
While the authorities are tightlipped on the situation, a police official while talking to EFE said that mobile internet services have been suspended as “a precautionary measure to check rumor mongering” and to prevent any “law and order problem.”
Former chief minister of the region, Mehbooba Mufti, told reporters that nobody was secure in Kashmir under the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Neither the security forces nor the civilians are secure in the region which the Indian ruling party BJP is claiming as peaceful,” Mehbooba said while reacting to the Poonch incidents.
The nuclear neighbors, India and Pakistan administer parts of Kashmir and claim the territory in its entirety.
There has been an armed insurgency in Indian Kashmir since 1989, which – according to New Delhi – is fostered by Islamabad.
Tens of thousands, mostly civilians, have been killed in the conflict so far.
Authorities claim that they have almost crushed the militancy after August 2019, when the region’s semi-autonomous status was scrapped.
However, the frontier districts Rajouri and Poonch have witnessed several deadly militant attacks in the last two years. EFE