Police denies slain Kashmir militants were labourers
27 March 2000
Srinagar: The police and Army authorities here have strongly refuted the charge they had actually killed seasonal labourers working at a brick kiln in southern Kashmir on Saturday and to save face had claimed that they were militants involved in the March 20 massacre of 35 Sikhs at Chhittisinghpura. ?This is ridiculous,? said inspector-general of police (Kashmir range), Mr Ashok Bhan, while reacting to the allegation levelled by villagers of Panchalthan-Pathribal. He telephoned The Asian Age that all the five slain militants wearing military-style fatigues were foreign mercenaries among those who has descended on Chhittisinghpura, to kill Sikhs in cold blood. The bodies of the militants were kept at Acchabal police station, for identification. ?But nobody among the locals was able to identify them as these were of foreign mercenaries,? the police official said. He added that only three of corpses were charred beyond recognition and the rest were intact. During a visit to the area by reporters, the people of the Panchalthan-Pathribal held protest demonstrations against the killing of five alleged militants in a ?seek and destroy? operation carried out jointly by the Army and the state police?s elite counter-insurgency Special Operation Group in the mountainous area on Saturday. They alleged that at least four of them were picked up after being brought down from a minibus running on Acchabal-Chattergul road.