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SRINAGAR — The family and neighbours of one of the three persons killed in Shopian and claimed to be militants by police on Thursday contested the claim, asserting that their kin was not a militant but a civilian.

Also, one soldier injured in the gunfight in southern district succumbed to injuries, taking the death toll in the gunfight to four.

A police spokesman in a statement had said that based on ‘a credible input”, a cordon and search operation was launched by police and government forces at Handew area in district Shopian.

“During the search operation, the hiding (militants) fired on the search party. In the initial exchange of fire, one Army soldier identified as Sepoy Rohit also sustained injuries. He has been hospitalized and is undergoing treatment. The fire was retaliated leading to an encounter,” the spokesman said.

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In the ensuing encounter, the spokesman said, “03 (militants) were killed and the bodies were retrieved from the site of encounter.”  The identities and affiliations of the slain are being ascertained, the spokesman had said.

Sources said that Sepoy Rohit Kumar Yadav succumbed to injuries at Badamibagh Army hospital where he was admitted after being airlifted from Shiopian.

A police officer identified the slain as Shakeel Ahmad Dar alias Abu Wasif son of Abdul Gani Dar of Tukroo Shopian, Shakir Ahmad Paul alias Owais Amin Baie son of Abdul Ganie Paul of Molu Dangerpora and Yawar Mushtaq alias Khalid Bhai son of Mushtaq Ahmad Dar of Bandpoh Thokerpora Shopian.

“The slain trio was affiliated with Hizbul Mujahideen outfit,” the officer had said.

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However, when the respective families went to PCR to collect the bodies, it surfaced that one among them was not Shakir Ahmad Paul but Ishtiyaq Ahmad Bhat son of Dawood Ahmad Bhat of Handew Imamsahab Shopian. The family and relatives of Ishtiyaq Ahmad said that he was an innocent person.

A police officer said that the encounter took place in an open space and questioned as to what Ishtiyaq was doing there.

“There was already a case (FIR 252/2018) under 13, 39 Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and 506 RPC and 7/27 Arms Act registered against him,” the police officer said, adding, “Further investigations are underway.”

Meanwhile, authorities have decided to suspend train service from Banihal to Baramulla on Friday.

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