Have no reason to dispute senior army officer's version on Lawaypora encounter: J-K DGP

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Jammu, Dec 31 (PTI) There is no reason to dispute the version of an army commander that the three militants killed in an encounter in Srinagar's outskirts had plans to carry out a 'big terror strike', J-K DGP Dilbag Singh said on Thursday, following claims by families that the slain youths were not involved in militancy.

The Jammu and Kashmir director general of police (DGP) also said that if there is any truth in the statement of the parents of the slain terrorists, police will act accordingly. 'My initial impression of this operation is that the operation has been conducted in the right manner,' Singh said.

General Officer Commanding (GoC) Kilo Force Major General H S Sahi, while addressing the media on Wednesday, had reportedly stated that the three militants had plans to carry out a 'big strike' on the Srinagar-Baramulla Highway and that they had turned down repeated surrender offers during the encounter.

Police had said that the encounter broke out between the militants and the security forces in the Lawaypora area on Tuesday evening and ended on Wednesday. While one militant was killed in the early hours of Wednesday, two others were shot dead a few hours later, they had said.

'The GoC is a senior officer. I have no reason to dispute what he has said (about the encounter),' Singh told reporters.

The DGP was replying to a question about the 'big terror strike' statement of the army officer in the backdrop of the police saying that the slain militants were not on the 'terrorist list'.

Singh also said, 'It is not important that every militant is listed with the police. It is after a chain of process, he is listed.' On Wednesday, a police spokesman had said that though the three killed terrorists 'were not mentioned in our list of terrorists, yet two of them were hardcore associates of terrorists (overground workers)' and had added that of the two, one was a relative of top Hizbul Mujahideen commander Rayees Kachroo, who was killed in 2017.

He had also said that it is suspected that the third might have joined militant ranks very recently.

However, family members from south Kashmir's Pulwama and Shopian districts, during a protest in Srinagar on Wednesday had claimed that the slain youths had no connection with militancy and that two of them were students.

The slain youths were Athar Mushtaq and Aijaz Maqbool, both students, and Zubair Ahmad was a carpenter, said the families.

On the families' claims, DGP Singh said that 'about yesterday's operation, what you have referred to... parents don't know about the whereabouts of their children. The families of two slain youths claimed that their children had gone to submit forms at a university. I want to ask them what were their children were doing at the encounter site if they had gone to submit forms.' 'We will look into the statements of the parents. If there is any truth in it, we will act accordingly. My initial impression of this operation is that the operation has been conducted in the right manner,' he said.

The youths' families had staged the protest outside the Police Control Room (PCR) in Srinagar, stating that their 'wards were not militants but students.' PTI AB ANB ANB ANB