Murdered NC Leaders Daughter Says, PSO Changed Statement Under Duress

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Srinagar – In a new twist to the ongoing Bedi Commission inquest into the mysterious death of National Conference activist, Haji Sayeed Yousuf, family of the deceased Wednesday alleged torture of his personal security officer to extract a doctored statement under duress.

Recording her statement before the Commission, the deceased NC worker’s elder daughter, Syeda Wajahat, alleged the statement of her late father’s PSO, Khursheed Ahmad, had been the outcome of custodial torture which had left visible marks of burn injuries on his hand.

She told the Commission her father’s PSO had allegedly been brutally tortured by Crime Branch sleuths to pressurize him before he had changed his statement in a local court.

“They forced my late father’s PSO, Khursheed Ahmad to change his statement in the court”, counsel for late Syed Yousuf’s family, Advocate Mushtaq Ahmad Dar, quoted late Yusuf’s daughter, Syeda Wajahat as having told the Justice H S Bedi Commission.

“One could easily spot burn injuries on Khursheed’s hand when he was released from police custody,” Wajahat is understood to have deposed in her statement before the Commission which has been probing the case for nearly a year.

Advocate Dar said that late Syed Yousuf’s brother, Syed Muhammad Shafi, while deposing before the Commission, had refuted the claim that police, administration or hospital authorities had actually informed the family about the “illness” of Syed Yousuf. “He was alright, had never had any medical complicacy. Neither the Crime Branch nor any other agency or hospital informed us that he was unwell. He (Syed Yousuf) was tortured to death in custody,” Shafi is said to have alleged in his statement recorded before the Commission.

Syed Shafi is understood to have told the Commission that a key witness Abdus Salam Reshi and former inspector-general of police, Crime, Raja Aijaz Ali, had alleged stated that Syed Yousuf had been subjected to custodial death at the chief minister, Omar Abdullah’s residence.

The proceedings of the high-profile case are being conducted at Hari Niwas. Justice (Retd) Bedi had arrived here yesterday to resume the probe, reports said, adding the hearing would continue on Thursday as well during which two more witnesses would record their statements.

During the hearing, the state was represented by advocates, Gaurv Vipchinda, Ali Muhammad Magray and Fraooq Ahmad Kathwari, while Advocate Mushtaq Ahmad Dar represented the victim’s family.

It may be recalled the late Haji Syed Yousuf of Bijbehara (Anantnag), a high-profile National Conference activist close to the corridors of power, had been summoned to Omar Abdullah’s Gupkar Road residence late September last year along with a co-worker, Abdus Salam Reshi of Anantnag and chief minister’s then “constituency representative” Muhammad Yousuf Bhat of Ganderbal, following the latters’ complaints of having paid over Rs 1.18 crore to the deceased allegedly to secure them Legislative Council and ministerial berths.

According to reports, Haji Yousuf had allegedly been subjected to torture after which he was handed over to the Crime Branch. He was later shifted to the police hospital during the night of September 29 where he died later.

Initially, the chief minister had ordered a judicial probe by a sitting High Court judge. However, after the chief justice declined to spare a sitting judge, the government took up the matter with the then law minister, Salman Khursheed, on whose intervention a retired Supreme Court judge, Justice H S Bedi, was appointed as one-man Commission to conduct the probe. Observer News Service

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