The Army has found that its troops “exceeded” their powers during an encounter in north Kashmir’s Shopian district in which three men were killed in July this year and has initiated disciplinary proceedings. On 18 July, the Army claimed to have killed three militants in an operation in Amshipura village in Shopian district.

But local residents and the families of three men hailing from Rajouri who went missing around the same time alleged that they had been killed in a staged encounter.

The families identified the dead men as three cousins working as labourers who went missing on 17 July from a rented accommodation in Chowgam village in Shopian district. With the incident triggering a major outcry, the Army initiated an inquiry. Colonel Rajesh Kalia, spokesman of the Army, said on Friday that “the evidence collected by the inquiry has prima-facie indicated that the three unidentified terrorists killed in Operation Amshipora were Imtiyaz Ahmed, Abrar Ahmed and Mohd Ibrar, who hailed from Rajouri. Their DNA report is awaited. Their involvement with terrorism or related activities is under investigation by the police”.

Colonel Kalia stated: “The inquiry ordered by the Army authorities into Op Amshipora has been concluded. The inquiry has brought out certain prima facie evidence indicating that during the operation, powers vested under the AFSPA 1990 were exceeded and the Do’s and Don’ts of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) as approved by the Hon’ble Supreme Court have been contravened. Consequently, the competent disciplinary authority has directed to initiate disciplinary proceedings under the Army Act against those found prima facia answerable.”

Relatives of the killed persons had called it a “fake encounter” in which the Army, CRPF and the Jammu & Kashmir Police were involved. The relatives of Ibrar had spoken to him on phone at 7.30 shortly before the encounter began.

The police have registered a separate case into the incident and have collected the DNA samples of the killed persons. Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah called for firm action against those found guilty.

He tweeted; “The process must remain transparent & the guilty must face the full weight of the law”.