Police in Indian-administered Kashmir are investigating the alleged killing of three civilians in a staged gunbattle in the Shopian district.
The families of Abrar Chouhan, 21, Imtiyaz Hussain, 21, and Abrar Chouhan, 16, claim the three men had no militant connections and had traveled from their hometown of Rajori to Shopian to work as labourers.
It’s been ten years since anyone in the Indian Army was prosecuted for carrying out an extrajudicial killing in Kashmir but activists claim residents caught up in conflict between pro-independence militias and the authorities are being murdered.
Family members of the slain trio say they left Rajori in the morning of July 17 to trek to Shopian and they last heard from the group at 7.30pm that evening.
Residents of Shopian told the Telegraph they heard gunshots from a remote cabin at 2.30am and then again at 5.30am, during the early hours of the morning on July 18.
Later that day, the Indian Army released a statement saying it had killed three Pakistani militants but from the pictures of their bodies they were identified as the three missing labourers from Rajori.
“They had not even a remote connection with militancy,” said Mohammed Yousuf, the father of one of the men told the Associated Press.
Mr Yousuf called on the police to launch a full investigation into the deaths of the three men, including a probe of their call records to prove their innocence and DNA testing on the bodies.
“We have lodged a criminal complaint and once their family reaches here we will take action,” confirmed Amritpal Singh, the Senior Superintendent of the Police in Shopian.
“We are checking where they were staying and we will come to the conclusion once their parents reach here”.
The Indian Army said it was looking into the incident: “We have noted social media inputs linked to the operation in Shopian on July 18. The Army is investigating the matter”.