Five days after a youth was killed in an alleged encounter by the Army, J&K police have arrested the man behind what they claim was a “staged encounter”. According to police investigations, the encounter was “orchestrated” by Army personnel belonging to the Rashtriya Rifles (RR) and one of their informers.
Police have arrested Mohammad Ramzan Lone alias Rameez, an Army informer, and a former militant, Nazir Ahmad Bhat.
According to the police, work on the encounter began in March this year. “In March, he (Lone) received two weapons from the Army,” a senior police officer told The Indian Express. “Posing as a militant sympathiser, Lone started to entice Hilal Ahmad Dar (the youth killed on July 24) into militancy”.
Both Lone and Dar lived in Aloosa village in Bandipore.
The police officer said Lone promised Dar that he would arrange a meeting with foreign militants. He also asked him to find someone else who wanted to meet foreign militants. “Dar contacted former militant Nazir Ahmad Bhat and motivated him to meet the foreign militants,” said the officer.
On the evening of July 24, Lone reportedly contacted Dar on his cellphone and told him that the meeting had been arranged. Lone also told Dar that they would have to go into the forest to meet the militants.
“He handed over the weapons to Dar and Bhat,” said the officer.”As they (Dar and Bhat) were moving towards the forest as per Lone’s directions, they were surprised to see Army searchlights. The Army personnel instantly opened fire on them, killing Dar on the spot. Bhat, however, managed to escape”.
The case was reportedly cracked when police checked Dar’s call records. “Lone was in constant touch with Dar and Army personnel as the call records of both the phones suggest,” said the police officer. It is not yet verified if the Army personnel involved in the alleged encounter were aware that Dar and Bhat had been lured into the forest.
The Army said it has no information about the police investigation. “We don’t know anything about it,’’ said Brigadier K J S Dillion, Brigadier General Staff 15 Corps. ‘’Police have not told us anything about any investigation. So we cannot comment on it’’.
Police have arrested both Lone and Bhat and recovered the other weapon. Police sources said Lone had planned the killing of both Dar and Bhat, but the latter managed to escape. “The whole drama was orchestrated by the Army’s 27 RR personnel and Lone,” the police officer said.