Anger in Kashmir after three civilians ‘tortured and killed’ in Indian army custody

Archive image of the Indian army in Kashmir. Editorial credit: Shakir Wani /

In Jammu Kashmir’s Poonch district, three men have been found dead under suspicious circumstances after having been in Indian army custody.

The deceased individuals, identified as Safeer Hussain (43), Mohammad Showket (27) and Shabir Ahmad (32), residents of Topa Peer village in Bufliaz, were among eight individuals picked up by the Indian occupation army for questioning in connection with an ambush on Indian troops at Dhatyar Morh.

The cause of their deaths is currently unknown, adding to the mystery surrounding the incident. However, villagers say they were tortured and a video circulating online seems to corroborate this.

Poonch Deputy Commissioner Choudhary Mohammad Yasin and Senior Superintendent of Police Vinay Kumar arrived in Bufliaz to investigate the deaths, while Jammu Divisional Commissioner Ramesh Kumar assessed the situation in Surankote.

The attack on the Indian occupation army, which occurred on Thursday, resulted in the death of five Indian army personnel and injuries to two others.

The ambush involved three to four heavily armed resistance fighters targeting a Maruti Gypsy and an Army truck late on Thursday afternoon.

In response to the escalating tensions, mobile Internet services were suspended in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch and Rajouri districts early on Saturday.

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Former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti, has raised concerns over the perceived impunity granted to the army following the Amshipora fake encounter, linking it to the recent civilian killings in Poonch.

During a press conference in Srinagar, she urged the administration led by LG Manoj Sinha to promptly initiate an inquiry into the Poonch incident. Mufti appealed for a compensation of Rs 50 lakh for the families of the deceased and Rs 5 lakh each for those injured due to alleged Army torture, emphasising the need for swift action.

“The bodies of three people, named Mohd Shabbir, Showkat Hussain, and Safeer Hussain, were discovered near the encounter site. Their bodies show signs of torture. The other 12 individuals have sustained serious injuries and are currently being treated in hospitals in Surankote and Poonch,” stated Mehbooba Mufti.

“The LG Administration should compensate the family of the deceased with Rs 50 lakh until justice is served. Additionally, to send a strong message and act as a deterrent in the future, provide a relief of Rs 5 lakh to the injured,” she added.

Meanwhile, protests erupted in Srinagar, the region’s main city, with at least three Kashmiri political parties staging demonstrations against the killings.

The Armed Forces Special Powers Act gives the Indian military in Kashmir sweeping powers to search, seize and even shoot suspects on sight without fear of prosecution. Under the act, local authorities need federal approval to prosecute army or paramilitary soldiers in civilian courts.

India has long relied on military force to retain control over the portion of Kashmir it occupies and administers and has fought two wars over the territory with Pakistan, which also claims the mountain region as its own.

Resistance fighters in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir have been fighting New Delhi’s rule since 1989. Most Muslim Kashmiris support their goal of uniting the territory, either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.

Kashmir has simmered in anger since 2019, when New Delhi ended the region’s semi-autonomy and drastically curbed dissent, civil liberties and media freedoms while intensifying “counterinsurgency operations.”

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