Kashmir militant killed in 12-hour battle was civilian (Second Lead)

August 8th, 2011 - 10:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Jammu/Srinagar, Aug 8 (IANS) In a major embarrassment for the army and the state government, Jammu and Kashmir police have in their preliminary probe found that a man killed in an alleged 12-hour gunbattle with an army unit Sunday was a mentally unstable civilian.

Two security personnel have been arrested for the alleged murder, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah told a news channel, admitting that the gunbattle in a forested district of Poonch, some 220 km north of Jammu, may not have been real.

“We are still enquiring into the exact circumstances as to what happened. Preliminary information suggests to us that a local Territorial Army fellow and an SPO (Special Police Officer) had conspired to inform the local army unit about the presence of the foreign militant in Pooch,” Abdullah told NDTV.

He said the army acted on the information and launched an operation.

“Subsequently, information came to light that that the person is not who the Territorial Army and the SPO claimed him to be,” he said.

The chief minister said the accused have “confessed to have passed on faulty information on the basis of which the operation was launched”.

“Both have been charged under section 302 amounting to murder and we will ensure that the law follows its own course,” he said.

The army had claimed that Lashkar-e-Taiba’s divisional commander Abu Usmaan was killed in a 12-hour shootout in Surankote forests of Poonch - which lies close to the border with Pakistan.

The army also claimed to have recovered some arms and ammunition from the shootout site.

Asked how it was possible to recover arms if the slain person was a civilian, Abdullah said: “There are a lot of details that will have to be gone into. Clearly more questions are raised than answers are available right now. We will get into all the other circumstances as to how the operation could take place against somebody who was not a militant.”

Meanwhile, the army has also launched a probe, according to a spokesperson of 16 Corps of the Indian Army.

“A soldier of the Territorial Army and Special Operation Group of the police had supplied wrong information to us, on the basis of which it was claimed that a terrorist has been killed in the encounter,” the spokesperson told IANS.

Sources said that the post-mortem identification revealed that the victim was a mentally-challenged civilian.

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