After two civilian killings by unidentified gunmen in a week, in Sopore, another civilian, Nazim Rashid alias Anjum died in police custody after he was arrested by a joint team of police and army yesterday.
Twenty six-year-old Anjum, son of Abdur Rasheed Shalla of Alamdar Mohalla was picked up by a police team for questioning in connection with the killing of one of the killed person, Mohammad Ashraf Dar, a labourer, son of Ghulam Ahmad of Chankhan.
Father of Anjum, Abdul Rasheed says it was joint party of army and SOG who pick up his son from home. “Yesterday at 2 pm, some army men of 22 Rashtriya Rifles from Gunju house camp, Sopore accompanied by some men from Special Operations Group (SOG) took my son from home. I protested but they said that they would release him within half an hour,” he says.
At 5 pm, Rasheed says, “I went to meet the Major of the army camp and told him that you had said that my son would be released within half an hour. He replied they are still inquiring and now they are interrogating him.”
“I feared of SOG interrogation, so I raised concern. I was told by him that the SOG men will interrogate Anjum mildly. I was assured that army will take my son in their custody. Major’s assurances remained in my mind so I was in touch with the army camp.”
In the evening, Rasheed went to the army camp to handover Anjum’s two mobile phones and met him. For the whole night he tried to contact the army men and the major but all in vain.
It was in the morning, when a neighbour informed Rasheed about media running news about a custodial killing in Sopore. Rasheed said then, “They had picked no one except my son.” He went to Superintendent of Police’s (SP) office at Sopore. He was told that his son will be released soon…but he could smell that his son has died.
“Till now police didn’t handover us his body. Perhaps it is in the hospital for post mortem. After the news spread, many relatives and neighbours tried to come to our house but they were beaten up by police.”
Laced with sophisticated weapons and anti-riot gear, many contingents of Central Reserve Police Forces (CRPF) and police sealed off the area around the house of Anjum. Press reporters who reached to the spot were not allowed to visit the house of the victim.
Later in the afternoon, protesters took to streets demanding action against the policemen involved in the killing. Several tear gas canisters were lobbed and protestor’s baton charged to thwart swelling demonstrations. Peaceful protests led to clashes after use of stern force by forces. Youth led to stone throwing in which six people- Tanveer Naveed, Farooq Ahmad, Abdul Majeed Shalla, Zahoor Ahmad, Imtiyaz Ahmad and Sana Ullah received injuries.
Losing no time, chief minister Omar Abdullah reacted to the killing on the micro-blogging website Twitter. He wrote, “The death of Anjum Rashid in police custody is a gross human right violation & inexcusable. Things like this CANNOT be allowed to happen.”
He also promised “swift and exemplary action with no delays, no cover ups, no excuses”. “I expect the police to do nothing less than make an example of those responsible so that nothing like this ever happens again. Swift and exemplary action. No delays, no cover ups, no excuses. That’s all I can promise and ensure. It’s not enough, of that too I’m aware,” Omar wrote.
After facing strong public pressure, Government has placed the Guard Commander and Sentry under suspension and attached the DySP operations.
An official spokesman said, “The District Magistrate has appointed a board of doctors and initiated proceedings under section 176 CrPC as provided under law in such cases. A case of custodial killing under Section 302-RPC has also been registered.”
He added further, “Further action shall be taken based on the medical report and the findings of the Magistrate.The decision in this regard was taken in a meeting convened by the Minister of State for Home, Nasir Aslam Wani which was attended by the Principal Secretary Home, B R Sharma, Director General of Police (DGP), Kuldeep Khoda, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir, S M Sahai and other senior police and civil officers.”
—With some inputs by Iymon Ganaie from Sopore.