BSF Officer Mourns Brother's Death After Poonch Incident, Calls for Investigation

BSF Officer Mourns Brother’s Death After Poonch Incident, Calls for Investigation

This is prize for working for nation: victim’s brother who is in BSF

Three of the eight civilians picked up by security forces Friday morning for questioning in connection with a militant ambush the previous day on two Army vehicles in J&K’s Poonch district, were found dead in the night in the Topa Pir area, leading to a huge outrage in the region.

Four Army soldiers were killed and three others injured in the militant attack on Thursday evening.

The three civilians who died Friday night were Safeer Ahmed, 48, and his two cousins and co-villagers Mohammad Showkat, 28, and Shabir Ahmed, 25. After the burial rituals of Safeer at their ancestral graveyard in Topa Pir area Saturday afternoon, his brother Noor Ahmed, who is a Head Constable in the Border Security Force, told The Indian Express, “This is the prize we have got for working for the nation.”

The burial of the three civilians took place amidst unprecedented restrictions imposed by the local administration in movement between Buffliaz in Poonch district and Thamamandi side of the Dehra Ki Gali in Rajouri district, and suspension of mobile internet services in the two border districts.

While the J&K administration did not comment on the cause of their death, it said legal action had been initiated and compensation announced. In a X post on Saturday, the Department of Information and Public Relations, J&K, said, “The death of three civilians was reported yesterday in Baffliaz of Poonch District. The medico legal formalities were conducted and legal action in this matter has been initiated by the appropriate authority. Government has announced compensation for each of the deceased. Further Government also announced compassionate appointments to the next of kin of each deceased.”

When contacted, the Army’s Public Relation Officer in Jammu said, “We have no inputs about the deceased and injured villagers.” Senior officers in the civil administration and J&K Police in Poonch and Rajouri districts did not respond to queries if an FIR had been registered to probe the deaths. A senior police officer said that Poonch Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Yasin Choudhary has ordered an enquiry. Choudhary did not respond to repeated calls.

Five other civilians — Fazal Hussain, 45, his nephews Mohammad Mehtab, 25, and Zulfikar, 14, besides Farooq Ahmed and Mohammad Arshad — were hospitalised at Government Medical College Hospital, Rajouri. Fazal, Mohammad and Zulfikar are from the Lower Pangai region in Rajouri.

Noor Ahmed, the BSF Head Constable, whose brother Safeer was one of the three civilians who died, said the family came to know about the death through a phone call by a DySP level police officer Friday evening. He claimed his brother had been working for various agencies (involved in counter insurgency operations). “When my brother lay buried in his grave leaving behind his widow and three minor children, my 82-year-old father Mir Hussain and mother Jainab Bi, 78, are in coma-like condition,” he said.

Mohammad Iqbal, a local businessman at Topa Pir, whose nephew Showkat Ahmed was among the three who died, said Army personnel accompanied by two police constables had picked up Showkat from his home on Friday around 10 am. “After getting information, we reached Buffliaz around 10 pm Friday only to see the dead bodies and the injured from Topa Pir village lying on the roadside. Deputy Commissioner Choudhary, who along with the SSP, Poonch, Vinay Sharma was on the spot asked us to take the bodies for burial, but we refused since it was night time,” he said.

The deceased had torture marks all over their bodies, another villager said. Even those hospitalised at Rajouri had injury marks over their bodies, he said. In the social media, unconfirmed graphic videos of the torture allegedly inflicted by security personnel on the civilians, were being circulated.

Relatives of the five civilians The Indian Express spoke with outside the GMC in Rajouri claimed the injured were brought in a jonga and left on the roadside at Dehra Ki Gali by the security forces in the night. “They were about to take the jonga back to Buffliaz side, but we stopped them. They were in a very bad condition, unable to call for help, or even make a call to their family members from the mobile phone lying near them,” said a relative, who did not wish to be named.

One of the injured, Farooq, was taken home by his family members on a cot, and the other four were brought to Thanamandi CHC and from there to GMC, Rajouri, the villagers said. Among the injured, Mehtab had been working as a labourer in Kashmir and was called home by his parents. “Mehtab was married only nine days ago,” said his father Alam Din whose other son Zulfikar, 14, and brother Fazal Hussain are among the injured. “Had I known about this (militant attack on Army and subsequent apprehension of his kins by the latter), I would not have called him home,” he told The Indian Express.

The villagers brought the three bodies home around 7.30 am Saturday after the local administration assured them financial help and government jobs, among other things. One of the relatives of the deceased said the Poonch Deputy Commissioner promised Rs 30 lakh to the next of kin of each deceased, besides a 10 marla plot at Surankote and a government job. SOURCE

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