Kashmir Indepth

Youth dies in police custody, magisterial probe follows

Srinagar, March 19 : A youth from Awantipora area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, was allegedly killed in police custody on Tuesday after he was held in connection with some militancy related case.

Official sources told  that Rizwan Asad Pandit, principal of a private school—Sabir Abdullah Jobwarara Awantipora, died in police custody at Srinagar during the intervening night of March 18 and 19.

A police officer also confirmed the death of Rizwan and said that he had been arrested for questioning in connection with some militancy related case.

“In this matter, while following the procedure laid down in section 176 of CrPC a magisterial inquiry is underway,” the officer said. Separately, police investigation has also been initiated in the jurisdictional area of incident, he said.

 Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbagh Singh said action in the case “would be as per the findings of magisterial proceedings.”

A spontaneous shutdown was observed Awantipora, the native place of the slain in south Kashmir and Old city of Srinagar amid clashes.

Reports said that as soon as news about the death of the Rizwan spread, clashes erupted in Awantipora, and adjoining areas along with several parts of Old City here in Srinagar.

Reports said that all shops and other commercial establishments remained closed in these areas while traffic was off the roads.

An eyewitness said thousands of people were waiting for his body at his home in Awantipora.

The “custodial killing” has been condemned by mainstream leaders including former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and Sajjad Lone, who heads Peoples conference, the former ally BJP, as well as Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.

“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,’ Omar tweeted.

Sajjad Lone condemned 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 r (are) with the family of the deceased,” Lone wrote on Twitter.

Former finance minister Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari demanded a time-bound probe into the “extrajudicial killing”.

“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, in a statement.

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.

Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Tuesday said that the custodial killing of a school teacher has once again exposed the “helplessness” of the people of Kashmir.

“Distraught at the brutal custodial killing of young Rizwan Ahmed of Awantipora. The brutal killing once again exposes the, helplessness, vulnerability and insecurity of the lives of Kashmiri’s as impunity to the authorities keeps rising. (sic),” Mirwaiz wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Kashmir University students on Tuesday afternoon staged a protest against the custodial death of the Principal and offered funeral in absentia. They also protested summon to Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chairman of the Hurriyat Conference (M).

The protesting students were carrying banners which read: “Stop harassment of our leaders, NIA summon to Mirwaiz is not acceptable.”

Raising slogans, the students marched inside the varsity premises to register their protest. The protesting students were demanding an impartial probe into the custodial death of school principal.

Meanwhile, in wake of the death, the authorities of Islamic University Awantipora have closed the varsity for the precautionary measures. The varsity has also suspended the class work and postponed all examinations scheduled on Wednesday. A varsity official said that the fresh dates will be notified later.

On Tuesday, the class work at IUST remained suspended while exams were also postponed.

The decision to suspend the class work was taken as a precautionary measure to avoid law and order situation, said the official. The train services from south Kashmir to Baramulla has been also suspended for tomorrow, according to railway authorities. (GNS)

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