Kashmir Indepth

Civil society, businessmen demand special commission to inquire into Principal’s ‘custodial death’

Srinagar, March 23 : Kashmir business community and civil society on Saturday said an independent Special Commission of inquiry in the “custodial death” of Awantipora school teacher Rizwan Asad Pandit.

Rizwan, principal at private school, died in “police custody”, two days after he was picked from his residence on March 17. On Tuesday, when news about the Rizwan’s death spread, police issued a statement, saying  Rizwan had “died in custody” and that the matter was being probed under “procedure laid down in Section 176 of CRPC.” A day later magisterial probe at Srinagar was shut and new probe officer was appointed after police filed FIR under section 224 “escape or attempts to escape from custody”, lending a new twist to the case.

Addressing a press conference in Srinagar, they said that there have been countless instances of inquiries being ordered in killings without any results.

“To deter future violations, we appeal to the Governor Satya Pal Malik for setting up of a time-bound Independent Special Commission of Inquiry,” they said.

Till the time the commission submits its report, they said, it would serve the ends of justice if the case is treated to be one of custodial killing and all persons associated with it are put “behind bars and kept away from active duty.”

“Such inquiries, suffering from institutional bias and State interference, have rarely served the interests of justice,” they said, according to a statement.

“We have a reason to believe that this killing would also suffer the same fate and the killers would again roam free to kill, more confident in the fact that their crimes will never be brought to account,” they said.

They said that the repeated perpetration of serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law needs in-depth fact-finding and investigation.

The family had said that his body bore evidence of being subjected to extreme physical violence.

The press conference was jointly held by KCC&I, High Court Bar Association, KTMF, KEA, KTMF (R), FCIK(A), FCIK(M), JKSECC, KCSDS, KHARA, CCIK, All Transport Welfare Association, Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers Dealers Association, Houseboat Owners Association, KHAROF, Pvt School Association, Kashmir Bakers Association, All Kashmir Chemist & Distributors Association, Hoteliers Club, All Traders & Transporters Coordination Committee, All J&K Taxi Owners Association, Association Of Kashmir Tour, Environmental Protection Group, Shehr e Khaas Coordination, Beopar Mandal S R Gunj, Rehabilitation Alliance, and Batamaloo Traders Association.

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