Massive clashes between youth and stone pelting youth erupted in Awantipora area of Pulwama on Tuesday after a 29-year-old teacher of south Kashmir arrested Sunday night in a terror case allegedly died in police custody.
The administration has ordered a magisterial inquiry while police has also started investigations after his death triggered outrage.
Rizwan Assad Pandit, a resident of Awantipora in south Kashmir’s Pulwama, was taken into custody in a raid by police on Sunday evening and his family was informed about his death at Cargo counterinsurgency police camp in Srinagar on Tuesday morning. Pandit, a chemistry post-graduate was also the principal of a private high school school in Awantipora. He also ran a private coaching centre.
A police spokesman said that Pandit was in custody in “pursuance of a terror case investigation” when he “died”. “There is a magisterial inquiry underway and separately police investigation has also been initiated in the jurisdictional area of incident,” said senior superintendent of Police, Srinagar, Haseeb Mughal when asked about allegations.
The news triggered outrage in the valley with political leaders condemning the incident. Kashmir separatists called for a strike on Wednesday and protests on Thursday against what they called was a “gruesome custodial killing”.
Pandit’s family said that it was a “cold blooded murder”. They said that local police came to their house in Awantipora on Sunday evening when they were sleeping and picked him up while “bundling the rest of the family in a room.”
“Yesterday morning they told us that he is at Cargo. Today morning, we were informed he has been killed… We couldn’t understand how it happened, people started coming to our home. This is such a tyranny,” said Pandit’s brother, Zulkarnain.
The family wants the incident to be investigated. “We want it to be investigated, although we know that the investigation won’t happen because it is a custodial killing… There are investigations pending from last 20 years,” Zulkarnain said.
Human rights groups have questioned the police and alleged that no murder FIR has been registered. “Today Rizwan Assad, a young teacher from Awantipora has been killed inside the Air Cargo camp, controlled by notorious Special Operations Group of Jammu & Kashmir police. Police has ordered investigation, but apparently not filed FIR for murder under section 302,” tweeted Khuram Parvez, coordinator J&K coalition of civil society (J&KCCS).
“This is not the first case of custodial killings. Perhaps it won’t be the last too, as the government continues to provide complete impunity to armed forces in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.
Political leaders including Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti, Sajad Lone and Shah Faesal have condemned the incident and demanded government to fix responsibilities.
“I had hoped custodial deaths were a thing of our dark past. This is an unacceptable development & must be investigated in a transparent, time bound manner. Exemplary punishment must be handed out to the killers of this young man,” said Omar Abdullah in a tweet.
I had hoped custodial deaths were a thing of our dark past. This is an unacceptable development & must be investigated in a transparent, time bound manner. Exemplary punishment must be handed out to the killers of this young man. https://t.co/Jj9RzsFu7r— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah)
March 19, 2019
Peoples’ Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti said, “Innocent men hauled up from their homes for interrogation return home only in coffins now.”
Innocent men hauled up from their homes for interrogation return home only in coffins now. GoI’s repressive approach leaves young educated men vulnerable who are forced to take up arms. Stop using Kashmir to exhibit your sick chauvinistic nationalism. We have suffered enough. https://t.co/YF4RhVb1QQ— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti)
March 19, 2019
J&K Peoples’ Movement founder Shah Faesal said that the “custodial killing can further destroy the prospectus of peace in Kashmir” and wanted “time-bound inquiry must be conducted in this incident and the culprits arrested immediately”.
“Condemn in strongest terms the death in police custody in Srinagar. This is what the sanctity of human life has been reduced to in Kashmir. My thoughts are with the family of the deceased,” said Peoples’ Conference chairman Sajad Lone.
Mar 19, 2019 18:34 IST