SRINAGAR: A 28-year old private school teacher Rizwan Asad Pandit of Awantipora died in the custody of Special Operations Group of police (SOG) here Tuesday night.
His family alleged that he was killed in custody by cops. Police said a magisterial inquiry has been ordered and police is also separately investigating the matter.
The incident sparked a spontaneous shutdown in Awantipora and parts of old city of Srinagar here. Intense clashes also occurred between protestors and police and security forces in Awantipora during which cops burst smoke shells and resorted to lathi charge. The protestors pelted stones. Authorities suspended mobile internet service in Awantipora. Giving details, family of Rizwan told media that he was arrested by police from his residence at Awantipora during night some days back. “Next morning we visited the local police station. But cops there said Rizwan was in SOG custody in Srinagar and that they cannot do anything about it. And, today we came to know he was killed in custody,” they said.
They described the death as a cold-blooded murder. “Rizwan was innocent and was not involved in any militant or separatist activity. He was arrested without any reason and killed in custody,” said Zulqarnain, his brother. He added that their father is associated with Jamat-e-Islami.
According Zulqarnain, in the past, Rizwan was arrested under PSA and shifted to Kot Bhalwal jail. However, the court quashed his detention order and ordered his release. Despite the court order, the police avoided releasing him for some time. But finally he was released. For last two months, Rizwan was busy with his routine work but police arrested him again three days back and killed him, the family alleged.
A report had said Rizwan was picked up by NIA for questioning but NIA denied it. A police spokesman in a statement said that in pursuance of investigation of militancy case, one suspect Rizwan Pandit, a resident of Awantipora in south Kashmir, was in police custody.
As the news about Rizwan’s custodial death spread in Awantipora, a spontaneous shut down was observed. The shops and other business establishments remained closed. Large number of people visited the affected family. Protest demonstrations were held and protestors clashed with police and security forces.
Shutdown was also observed in several parts of old city of Srinagar here. Protestors burnt tyres on the roads. Shutdown was also observed in Maisuma. Protests were also held by students in Kashmir University.
Conference vice president Omar Abdullah has
condemned custodial death of a teacher Rizwan Asad Pandit from
Awantipura, Pulwama in Srinagar demanding exemplary punishment to those
involved in the act.
Party vice president while expressing shock and agony over the incident said, “I had hoped that custodial killings were a thing of past. This is an unacceptable development and must be investigated in a transparent, time bound manner. Exemplary punishment must be handed out to the killer of this young man.”