The custodial killing of 29-year-old Rizwan Asad Pandit, a school principal from Awantipora area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, sparked the debate — which was under the carpet only — and posters, asking Justice for Rizwan Sir surfaced on social media platforms, held by his students post his funeral.
Mr. Pandit was taken from his home by government forces on the intervening night of 17 and 18 March, and Kashmir woke up with the news of his killing on 19 March. As per initial probe, after analyzing the post-mortem details, he died of ‘extravasation of blood’.
On the second day of his killing, students from the south — affiliated with Mr. Pandit — took to their social media handles and uploaded placards displaying their demand in capital letters: “Justice for Rizwan sir”, and were shared widely.
The Kashmir Walla reached out to students who are protesting online. Irshad Javaid, a 12th-grade student, said that the killing of his “innocent teacher” has broken him, and as he is only asking the rhetorical question, “This was a conspired murder. What was the reason, why was he killed?” questions Mr. Javaid a 12-grade student.
Many of Mr. Pandit’s students attended his last rites in Awantipora. “We have always seen him smiling warmly; the way he was lying before my eyes—dead—pierced my heart,” said Mr. Javaid. A few of his students were wailing, while others were raising pro-freedom slogans, but a few others, who were standing numb, made Mr. Javaid question again, “What was the reason that he was killed?”
Mr. Javaid was also a part of Mr. Pandit’s funeral, “His neck bone was broken and had severe injuries on his back,” he said.
Similar was the reaction of Insha Jan, another student of Mr. Pandit. She remembers him as a humble person with great teaching qualities. “I demand a complete and fair investigation over his killing. Local police were involved in his killing. They took him without any proof and killed him inside the custody,” she alleged.
Ms. Jan believes that his killing has given her an impression regarding why young boys of Kashmir are against India. “They are killing people and expecting peace here,” she said. “He is a true martyr.”
But, for Tajamul Islam, a 12-grade student, who was standing on a bus stand, where the rumors of Mr.Pandit’s killing was on everyone’s mouth. “I told my friend that this is not true,” he said, as he couldn’t settle down with this fact.
Holding play-card in his hand, demanding justice for his teacher, Mr. Islam said, “He was killed in a completely unacceptable manner. He was taken for questioning but returned dead. He was close to us and we cannot see his killers roaming freely.”
Since his teacher’s killing, Mr. Islam spends the entire day at his home, serving hundreds of mourners, visiting family to show their sympathy over the loss of a son. “His family is broken after his killing, and this has made all of us, his students, emotional. We want justice for our Rizwan sir.”
Sharing the anecdote from his last meeting with Mr. Pandit, he recalls when both of them had met outside the coaching center, where Mr. Pandit used to teach chemistry, told him “work hard and do good in your studies,” he sighed. Before leaving, Mr. Pandit had taped on his shoulder, wishing him good luck for his future, smiling warmly.
Kaiser Andrabi is a feature writer at The Kashmir Walla