J-K: Rajnath Singh Meets Families Of Three Slain Poonch Civilians, Assures Action

New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday visited Rajouri district in Jammu and Kashmir and met the families of three civilians who were killed last week after being allegedly detained by the Army following a terrorist attack on two Army vehicles in Poonch district. Singh, who was accompanied by Army chief General Manoj Pande and Lt Governor Manoj Sinha, also enquired about the health of four other civilians who were allegedly tortured by the troops in Thanamandi area of Rajouri during an anti-terrorist operation. He assured them of justice and action against the guilty after an inquiry into the incident.

The defence minister also interacted with several District Development Council (DDC) members, former legislators and civil society members who were present at the meeting at Dak Bungalow. He expressed his condolences to the families of the four soldiers who lost their lives and three others who were injured in the ambush by terrorists at Dhatyar Morh in Surankote area of Poonch on December 21.

“Whatever has happened…there will be justice,” Singh told reporters at the Government Medical College (GMC) hospital where he had gone after meeting the families of the deceased civilians.

The incident had sparked a public outrage after video clips showing the alleged torture of the detained civilians went viral on social media. The civilians – Safeer Hussain (43), Mohd Showket (27) and Shabir Ahmad (32)– were found dead on December 22, a day after they were picked up by the Army for questioning.

The four civilians – Mohd Zulfkar, his brother Mohd Betab, Fazal Hussain and Mohd Farooq – who were admitted in the GMC hospital last Friday claimed that they were beaten up by the troops in Thanamandi area during the search for terrorists. The search operation is still going on in both Surankote and Thanamandi forest belt.

Former MLC Shahnaz Ganai, who was present in the meeting, said that they were hopeful that the victim families will get justice, given the visit of the defence minister and his assurance. She also paid tributes to the brave soldiers and said that the people of Rajouri-Poonch will not let the enemies of the country take advantage of such incidents.

Sohail Malik, DDC member, Surankote, said that the defence minister assured them that all those responsible for the incident would be dealt with as per the law of the land. He said that the people demanded justice, compensation and jobs for the victim families.

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