Srinagar, India, Nov 18 (EFE).- The Kashmir government Thursday ordered a probe into alleged civilian killings by the Indian Army in a controversial shootout hours after an overnight police crackdown on protesters demanding bodies of the slain men.
“A magisterial inquiry … has been ordered. The government will take suitable action as soon as report is submitted in a time-bound manner. The admin(istration) reiterates commitment of protecting lives of innocent civilians and it will ensure there is no injustice,” Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha, the regional administrator, tweeted.
Sinha, directly appointed by the Indian government to rule the disputed Himalayan region, said an additional district magistrate would probe the controversial police operation Monday in the upscale Hyderpora neighborhood of summer capital Srinagar.
The probe order comes hours after dozens of cops in armored vehicles removed protesting relatives of two slain civilians from the Press Enclave in Srinagar.
The dramatic visuals of the police crackdown showed cops with assault rifles rounding up the protesters who were demanding bodies of the civilians killed in the controversial gunfight that has triggered fresh outrage in the troubled Muslim-majority region.
The protesters had vowed to continue with their indefinite sit-in, braving bone-chilling cold and night temperatures that have already plummeted several degrees below the freezing point.
One of the clips showed police forcibly grabbing some of the protesters by their collars and packing them in bony-plated vans.
One of the family members tore down his clothes to open his chest and shouted at police, “Shoot me, terrorists. We do not expect anything less in our pursuit of justice.”
Saima Bhat, a protester, howled at police, asking police why they were acting forcibly “as if we are terrorists.”
Others shouted, “We Want Justice,” Stop Killing Innocent Kashmiris.”
The latest flare-up came after the Indian Army and police claimed they busted an illegal call center and killed four militants and associates in Srinagar on Monday.
Police said the call center provided “logistic support to active terrorists” from a private building, just 5 km (3 miles) from the high-security Srinagar airport area.
The building owner, Altaf Bhat, 48, and his tenant Mudasir Gul, 40, were called to accompany the search party when militants opened fire at security forces, a police statement said.
“(They) received critical gunshot injuries and succumbed to their injuries. Two terrorists hiding in the room were eliminated,” police claimed.
The police said the slain militants included a Pakistani national and his Kashmiri associate Aamir Magray.
Police claimed Dar and Gul, a dental surgeon-turned-real estate dealer, were “overground workers,” a euphemism for militant sympathizers and supporters.
The security forces refused to hand over the bodies to the families and buried them at an undisclosed location in north Kashmir, “keeping in view the law and order scenario.”.
However, the families of the three slain men dismissed the police account, saying the building owner and the dentist were used as human shields and killed in “cold blooded murder.”
They demanded their rights to perform the funeral of the dead.
Indian authorities followed a policy from 2020 to bury slain militants in unmarked graves in forested areas, denying their families proper funerals to prevent pro-freedom protests.