Press Trust of India

Rajnath meets families of three slain civilians, assures justice

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Rajouri/Jammu: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday assured justice to the families of three civilians who were found dead last week after being allegedly picked up by the Army following an ambush on two of Army vehicles in Poonch district.

Singh, accompanied by Army chief General Manoj Pande and Lt Governor Manoj Sinha, reached Rajouri district this afternoon, where he met the families of the deceased and also visited the Government Medical College (GMC) to enquire about the health of four other “torture” victims.

Several District Development Council (DDC) members, former legislators and civil society members were also present at the meeting between the defence minister, Lt Governor and the families of the deceased civilians.

“Whatever has happened…there will be justice,” the defence minister told reporters at the GMC hospital where he had reached after meeting the families of the deceased civilians at Dak Bungalow.

Four soldiers lost their lives and three others were injured when their vehicles were ambushed by terrorists at Dhatyar Morh between Dhera Ki Gali and Buffliaz in the Surankote area of Poonch on December 21.

Three civilians — Safeer Hussain (43), Mohammad Showket (27) and Shabir Ahmad (32)– were allegedly picked up by the Army for questioning following the attack and they were later found dead on December 22. Video clips purportedly showing torture of the detained civilians went viral on social media.

Four people — Mohammad Zulfkar, his brother Mohammad Betab, Fazal Hussain and Mohammad Farooq — were admitted in the GMC hospital, Rajouri last Friday after they were allegedly beaten up by the troops in Thanamandi area of Rajouri during the anti-terrorist operation. The search for terrorists is going on in both Surankote and Thanamandi forest belt.

“The defence minister met the families of the civilians, civil society and assured action against the guilty after an inquiry into the incident,” former MLC Shahnaz Ganai, who was present in the meeting at Dak Bungalow, told PTI.

She said they are hopeful that the victim families will get justice, given the visit of the defence minister to share the pain and his assurance.

“While condemning this incident, we also pay our tributes to our brave soldiers and express our condolences to their families. We the people of Rajouri-Poonch will not allow the inimical elements within or outside the country to take benefit of such type of incidents,” Ganai said.

Sohail Malik, DDC member, Surankote, said the defence minister assured them that all those responsible for the incident would be dealt with as per the law of the land.

The incident had triggered an outrage with the people demanding justice, compensation and jobs for the victim families, Malik said, expressing satisfaction over the visit of the defence minister and his assurance to them.

Press Trust of India

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