India says it killed three suspected rebels in last week's gunfight in the disputed region but families of the slain men say they were innocent and killed in an encounter staged by government forces.

Father of Athar Mushtaq (C) joins protesters in Srinagar on January 4, 2021, demanding the bodies of their relatives.
Father of Athar Mushtaq (C) joins protesters in Srinagar on January 4, 2021, demanding the bodies of their relatives. (AA)

Pakistan has "strongly" condemned what it called the "extrajudicial" killings of three Kashmiris — two of them teenagers — by the Indian troops in India-administered Kashmir, demanding their bodies be handed over to the families for proper burial.

"The families and neighbours of the martyred Kashmiris, Aijaz Maqbool Ganie, Zubair Ahmed Lone, and Athar Mushtaq Wani have affirmed that the young boys were innocent, who visited Srinagar on the fateful day and became victims of Indian state-terrorism," the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday in a statement.

It is "doubly inhuman" that the bodies of the three Kashmiris are not handed over to their families despite repeated appeals, it also said.

READ MORE: Indian troops kill Kashmir 'rebels' but families say they were innocent

Families seek bodies of slain teenagers

Indian forces killed three young men in Srinagar, the capital of India-administered Kashmir, in an alleged gunfight on December 29, dubbing them "militants."

Their families, however, disputed the Indian army claims, saying all the deceased were "innocent."

The families also staged a demonstration in Srinagar on Monday, demanding the bodies of their relatives which are still in the possession of Indian authorities.

Extrajudicial killings

Last July, another three young men were killed in a staged military operation in India-administered Kashmir, with authorities initially claiming that they were "Pakistani terrorists."

After two months of protests by their families, who said the victims were labourers with no connection to any rebel outfits, the Indian army admitted its wrongdoing in September.

Rebels have been fighting Indian control since 1989. New Delhi accuses Pakistan of sponsoring Kashmiri militants, a charge Pakistan denies. The conflict has killed tens of thousands of civilians, rebels and government forces.

Kashmiri civilians and activists for years have accused Indian troops of abusing their powers and repeatedly targeting civilians.

India has rejected every request since 1990 to prosecute Indian soldiers in civilian courts in Kashmir over allegations of abuses, including murder and rape, according to official documents.

READ MORE: Indian army 'planted weapons' on bodies of slain Kashmir civilians

Source: AA