Kashmir Indepth

Altaf Bukhari condemns custodial killing of Awantipora resident

Srinagar, March 19: Former finance minister Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari on Tuesday demanded a time bound probe into the extra judicial killing of Awantipora resident who according to reports was arrested by police and died in custody at Srinagar.

Expressing serious concern over the incident, Bukhari expressed his heartfelt sympathies with the bereaved family and prayed for eternal peace to the departed soul.

“It is highly unfortunate that a young man, teacher by profession, has lost his life in police custody and it needs to be thoroughly investigated to know what went wrong and who are responsible for his death in custody,” Bukhari demanded.

He said, at a time when the police had to learn to behave responsibly and sensitively such sad incidents only add to the prevailing mistrust among the people with the system which nobody in a civilized society can afford. Bukhari said that authorities especially the Honb’le courts and the National Human Rights Commission have already set out detailed procedures to prevent and punish police use of torture and ill-treatment.

“However, such incidents of torture wherein suspects are punished to gather information is totally unacceptable in light of the laid down rules by the Honb’le Supreme Court.”

The former finance minster remarked that police abuse reflects a failure of any regime at the helms of affairs to implement accountability mechanisms.

“Despite strict guidelines in place, the authorities in Kashmir routinely fail to conduct foolproof investigations and prosecute police officials implicated in torture and ill-treatment of arrested persons. Police investigators often close cases relying solely on the accounts of the implicated police officers. This unfortunate trend that has grown mistrust among people in probes needs to be done away with,” Bukhari observed.

He added: “In a democratic set-up we live in, the police must follow proper arrest procedures—including documenting the arrest, notifying family members, conducting medical examinations, and producing the suspect before a magistrate within 24 hours as has been directed by the Honb’le Supreme Court.”

When these procedures are not followed in letter and spirit, Bukhari said the suspects become more vulnerable to abuse and may have contributed to a belief by some officials in police department that any mistreatment with the inmates could be ‘covered up’.

Bukhari said that the guilty in the custodial killing case of Awantipora resident need to be immediately identified, arrested and brought to justice so that punishment given by the Honb’le courts in this case becomes deterrence and prevent others from committing such heinous crimes in future.

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