A school teacher and Jamaat-e-Islami activist, Rizwan Asad Pandit, hailing from Jammu and Kashmir's Awantipora died in the custody of J&K Police on Tuesday. Rizwan was earlier detained by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on suspicion of links with militants and was released a few days ago.
Rizwan's brother claimed it as a cold-blooded murder and custodial killing by the Special Operation Group of J&K Police.
"He had started living a normal life after he was freed of all the charges. Besides being the principal of a local school, he was also teaching students privately," Rizwan's brother Zulqarnain said. He added that they were associated with the Jamaat-e-Islami organisation for decades.
"Our forefathers were associated with Jamaat. We were running charities and schools. Is that a crime," Zulqarnain asked. He said that local policemen barged into their house some days back and took Rizwan away.
"After that, when we enquired about his whereabouts, the local police officials told us he has been shifted to the CARGO, Special Operations Group in Srinagar. We were handed over his dead body today morning," Zulqarnain added.
The J&K Police said that a magisterial probe has been initiated under section 176 of the CrPC. It will be headed by Additional Deputy Commissioner Pulwama. J&K Police Inspector General SP Pani has confirmed the death of Rizwan.
Meanwhile, clashes erupted across South Kashmir after Rizwan's body was handed over to his family. A shutdown was also observed at the city centre, Lal Chowk, over the custodial death.
Political leaders lash out
Former J&K chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti have hit out at J&K Police for the alleged custodial death and demanded a time-bound enquiry into the matter.
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. https://t.co/Jj9RzsFu7r
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) March 19, 2019
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. https://t.co/YF4RhVb1QQ — Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) March 19, 2019
Former IAS officer-turned-politician Shah Faesal has also expressed sorrow over the incident.
This custodial killing can further destroy the prospectus of peace in Kashmir.
Time-bound inquiry must be conducted in this incident and the culprits arrested immediately.
My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family.
— Shah Faesal (@shahfaesal) March 19, 2019