Antony assures fair probe of Kashmir civilian killings

New Delhi, May 29 (IANS) Defence Minister A.K. Antony said Saturday that the alleged murder of three Kashmiri civilians in a staged shootout involving an Indian Army major was being ‘seriously’ probed and none would be spared if found guilty.

‘With the Kashmir government already enquiring into the fake encounter case, we will cooperate in the probe. The army is also enquiring seriously. Nobody will be spared,’ Antony told reporters here on the sidelines of the golden jubilee function of Mazagon Dock Ltd, India’s premier shipbuilding company.

The defence minister ruled out any coverup of the incident that has triggered fresh bouts of protests in Kashmir.

‘There is no question of a coverup. We’ll take action against anyone found guilty,’ Antony said.

In Kashmir, police have booked an Indian Army major and four other people, including a Territorial Army soldier, for the murder of three civilians in a staged gun battle last month.

Police allege that three Pakistani infiltrators who the army claimed it had killed April 30 in a gun battle near the Line of Control (LoC) were actually Kashmiri civilians framed as militants by the accused major to claim monetary rewards.

The state government has already ordered a magisterial probe into the killing. The bodies of the three men were exhumed Friday from a graveyard in Kalaroos village of Kupwara district. They were identified as Shahzad Ahmad Khan, Riyaz Ahmad Lone and Muhammad Shafi Lone by their relatives in the presence of a magistrate.

‘All the three had bullet wounds on their heads which is highly unlikely in a gunfight between the security forces and the militants. All of them were dressed in summer clothes, which is not possible for militants crossing the snowbound LoC where the gunfight was claimed to have occurred,’ a police officer said in Srinagar.