SRINAGAR: The three youths killed in a gunfight with security forces in Lawaypora last month were involved in militancy, Inspector General of Police-Kashmir Vijay Kumar said on Monday and added that police will soon convince their parents of it with concrete evidence. "Their involvement has been -- almost 60 per cent -- proved. We are getting the data and we will convince their parents," he said.

He said the police were not sharing the information as yet deliberately as the issue was very sensitive.

"According to the meta data we have collected so far, all the three associates who were killed in the encounter were involved in militancy. They were providing logistic support (to militants). We want to take a few more days so that we collect all the evidence which we will show to their parents first to convince them of their children's involvement," Kumar told reporters here.

Security forces had said the three local militants were killed in the encounter in Lawaypora on the outskirts of Srinagar in the last week of December, but their families claimed that the youths were civilians.

Asked about the demand for handing over the bodies of the trio to their families, Kumar said there was no question of it because their involvement in militancy has been proved.

The IGP said the bodies of slain militants or militant associates are not being handed over to their families in view of the COVID-19 pandemic as people might assemble in funerals and violate protocols.

"The protocol is followed in case of death of a civilian, but, if we hand over the bodies of militants or associates, people get emotional and attend the funerals in thousands," he said.

Kumar said the pandemic has not ended yet and if the bodies of militants or militant associates are handed over to their families, then it will be difficult to stop people from gathering.

"Then we will have to fight the people, use tear gas or maybe even pellets. Then also, you will criticise us. The bodies of slain militants have been buried in the presence of their family members. So, there is no logic in another burial," the Inspector General of Police (IGP) told reporters.

He said it is in the larger interests of the people that the police do not hand over the bodies.

"Till COVID does not end, we will not hand over the bodies of militants or militant associates," he said.

On a question about the allegation that allurement of reward money led to the Amshipora fake encounter killing of three persons from Rajouri, the IGP said the issue has been misrepresented in the media.

"The reward money is given to the source and not to any officer. In this case also, their company commander had promised and has also given the money to the source. The source has also accepted before a magistrate that he received the money. He has not said the Major or the Commanding Officer got the money," Kumar said.

On the arrangements for Republic Day functions, the IGP said militants would try to disrupt the functions, but the police will ensure all such attempts were foiled.

"We have done all the preparations. Checking and cordon-and-search (operations) have started, nakas have been established. Our personnel are ready, technical support and human resources are also there and we are keeping surveillance. Terrorists will make attempts, but we are alert and the focus is on preventive intelligence.... There will be some preventive arrests also," he said.

Kumar said it has been seen in recent times that over ground workers (OGWs) of terror outfits or militant associates are involved in cases of opening fire from pistols, throwing grenade or IEDs, and it was a top priority for the police to deal with the issue.

"Yesterday, we arrested a youth from Anantnag along with a pistol and he accepted that he was tasked to kill someone. The youth are being lured as OGWs, but the police are alert and we are tracking them through technical surveillance and human resources and this is a top priority for us," he said.