Kashmir is again on boil. The death of a 28-year old man Rizwan Assad Pandit of Awantipora in police custody has caused shock waves all across the valley. Rising above party politics and ideological difference, all hues of political groups have condemned the “killing” in police custody and sought fair, prompt and impartial time-bound probe into it. They have asked for exemplary punishment for the guilty.
The separatist leadership JRL has announced a three-day protest schedule against the “custodial killing” of Rizwan and alleged harassment and indiscriminate arrests, slapping of draconian Public Safety Act and summoning of political activists by the Special Operation Group (SOG).
JRL has called for general shutdown on Wednesday against Rizwan’s “killing” in SOG’s Cargo headquarters.
A Jamaat-e-Islami associate and teacher in a private scholl, Rizwan was arrested by the sleuths of National Investigation Agency (NIA) and SOG men a few days back. He was lodged at Cargo office of the SOG. Rizwan died the previous night in the camp.
Rizwan’s father Assadullah Pandit is a basic member of the Jamaat-e-Islami, the socio-religious organization banned last month.
His relatives have alleged that Rizwan was tortured to death during custody.
JRL appealed all segments of society including Traders, lawyers, bar association, civil society, and others from different walks of life to peacefully protest against the custodial killing and assaults on Kashmiris on Thursday.
On Friday, March 22nd, 2019, after Friday (Juma) prayers, people at all Masajid, Khanqahs and Imam Baras will raise their voices peacefully against this custodial killing by NIA and SOG and continuing policy of violence in the Kashmir.
Reacting to the custodial death of Rizwan, the former chief minister and NC vice president Omar Abdullah said that the ‘killing’ is unacceptable development and must be investigated in a transparent and time-bound manner. “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 Abdullah tweeted.
The PDP president and former chief minister Mahbooba Mufti too demonstrated her rage on the incident. “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 (sic),” Mehbooba wrote on Twitter.
Former minister and Peoples’ Conference President Sajjad Lone, in a statement said, “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”.
Former finance minister Altaf Bukhari also condemned the incident. “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.
CPI(M) leader and former legislator M Y Tarigami also expressed grief over Jamaat man’s ‘killing’ and asked for fair probe and exemplary punishment for the guilty.
PDP leader Naeem Akhtar asked the Governor Satpal Malik to “come clean on the incident”.
Police position on the death
The Jammu and Kashmir police on Tuesday issued a statement regarding the death of an Awantipora youth in custody today.
The spokesman in a statement said that in pursuance of militancy case investigation, one suspect Rizwan Pandit, a resident of Awantipora in south Kashmir, was in police custody.
The said Pandit died in police custody. In this matter while following the procedure laid down in section 176 of crpc a magisterial inquiry is underway.
Separately police investigation has also been initiated in the jurisdictional area of the incident, police said.