Teacher Dies In Police Custody, Magisterial Inquiry Follows

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SRINAGAR — A 25-year-old teacher from Awantipora area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district died in police custody here following which a procedural magisterial proceeding followed.   

Officials said Rizwan Asad Pandit, Principal at a private school—Sabir Abdullah Jobwarara Awantipora, died in police custody at Srinagar’s cargo police station during intervening night of March 18 and 19.

A police officer said Rizwan had been arrested for questioning in connection with some militancy related case.

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Director General of Police told a local news agency said action in the case “would be as per the findings of magisterial proceedings.”

Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, district magistrate Srinagar said that the magisterial inquiry is being held by additional deputy commissioner Srinagar who h as already visited the spot where the youth was held in custody.

The district magistrate has said the inquiry would be completed soon and its findings will be made public.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) denied having arrested or ever called for questioning the 25-year-old teacher.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the agency said: “The NIA emphatically denies reports linking it with Rizwan Ahmed, a resident of Awantipora. He was neither called for questioning nor was he examined at any other location in connection with cases being investigated by NIA”.

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Some media reports said here that Rizwan Asad Pandit died in police custody on Monday in Srinagar, and that he had been detained by NIA for questioning.

Spontaneous Shutdown, Clashes In Valley Parts 

‘Custodial Killing’ Widely Condemned;  Omar Demands Exemplary Punishment To The Killers  

A spontaneous shutdown was observed Awantipora, the native place of teacher Rizwan Asad Pandit, and the parts of Old city of Srinagar. Clashes also ensued soon after news about the teacher spread in Awantipora, and adjoining areas along with several parts of Old City.

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.

Kashmir University students also 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 prncipal.

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, 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 on Wednesday, according to railway authorities.  

 

 

 


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