SRINAGAR: Following the death of school principal in police custody protests and clashes were reported across Kashmir. Rizwan Pandit, 28, a resident of Awantipora in Pulwama district, died during the intervening night of Monday and Tuesday.
Pandit, who was a teacher at a private school, was picked up by the security agencies three days ago in connection with a militant case.
A magisterial inquiry has been ordered under section 176 of the Code of Criminal Procedure by the Police. The CrPC section pertains to inquiry by a magistrate into cause of death, including when any person dies while in the custody of police.
Rizwan’s father said, “It is cold-blooded murder. How could they kill my son and then ask me to take the body home?”
“Rizwan was the principal at a local private school where he also taught chemistry and ran a tuition centre in the main market of Awantipora, barely a kilometre away from their two-storey house. Rizwan taught at the government polytechnic college in Awantipora last year, where he was hired as contractual lecturer,” The Wire quoted Rizwan’s brother Mubashir as saying. Rizwan had completed an MSc in chemistry from Dehradun and was planning to apply for a PhD at Kashmir University, said Mubashir.
The teacher’s death in police custody was condemned by several politicians who demanded a time-bound probe into the matter and punishment to the guilty.
Demanding exemplary punishment to the accused, former chief minister Omar Abdullah said, “I had hoped custodial deaths were a thing of our dark past. Exemplary punishment must be handed out to the killers of this young man.”
“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 (sic),” PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti said.
PDP leader Naeem Akhtar asked Governor Satya Pal Malik’s administration to come clean on the incident.
“Disturbing reports of custodial death of youth from Awantipora in Srinagar’s Cargo Camp. As per media he was picked up by NIA few days ago & was lodged in CARGO camp of (SOG). @jandkgovernor administration should come clean on this (sic),” Akhtar, a former minister, tweeted.
Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq tweeted, “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.”