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01 August 2011

Youth killed in police custody in North Kashmir, Sopore erupts in fresh phase of violence after killing

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By Bashir Assad


Srinagar: A youth picked up by security forces in connection with a civilian killing in North Kashmir’s Sopore town died allegedly in police custody Sunday.


Sources said personnel of Special Operations Group (SOG) of police had arrested Nazim Rashid son of Abdul Rashid Shala of Krankshan Colony Sopore on Saturday. "He died in the custody this morning," sources added.


“He was picked up in connection with a killing of a civilian in the town,” a police officer said The Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Sunday described the killing of a Sopore youth in custody as gross human rights violation while as hardline separatist leader Sayed Ali Geelani said "the killing bear testimony to the barbaric rule of the police." Though the police said a detailed statement would follow, Nazim’s family alleged that he had been tortured to death.


Nazim Rashid was detained by J&K police Saturday in the northern town of Sopore. He was declared dead early Sunday by police but they gave no reasons for his death. Following the killing of a youth Nazim Rashid alias Naveed Anjum allegedly in police custody, government placed the Guard Commander and Sentry under suspension and attached the Dy SP 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


As soon as the news of death in custody of Nazim came in, Sopore town erupted with angry protests. Hundreds of protesters took to the streets against the custodial killing. Marching demonstrators were confronted by security forces deployed at Sopore town. Six protesters were injured when security forces charged at the protesters with batons and tear-smoke shelling, fuelling stone battles between the security forces and the protesters. The protests were the first major demonstrations this summer and raised concerns that the region might see a return to the street violence that has rocked the state over the last three years, leaving scores dead.


Chief Minister Omar Abdullah while condemning the death wrote on the micro-blogging site Twitter that ‘the death of Anjum in police custody is a gross human rights violation and inexcusable. Things like this CANNOT be allowed to happen."


"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
Soon after the Abdullah's statement, a government spokesman said, the district magistrate has appointed a board of doctors and initiated proceedings. "A case of custodial killing under Section 302-RPC has also been registered," said the spokesman.


"The guard commander and a sentry were suspended. The Dy SP operations Sopore have been attached," said the spokesman. "Further action shall be taken based on the medical report and the findings of the magistrate" he said.


The victim was picked up last night by a police team. "The youth was detained last night in connection with the killing of Ashraf Dar, a labourer, recently. He was with the militants when Dar was shot dead," said Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Sopore Ashiq Hussain.


Dar, according to the police, was shot dead by militants on Thursday outside his house. Another civilian was also killed by suspected militants on Sunday last in Sopore area.


Meanwhile opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti, however, attacked the chief minister. "Ordering a probe in every atrocity has become a ritual for Abdullah as none of such inquiries has ever resulted in any action against the culprits," she said.


She alleged "the custodial killing was the unfortunate consequence of the government license to police and security forces to use all methods for maintenance of a surface calm."


On the other hand Sayed Ali Geelani, who called for peaceful protests, alleged the youth was beaten to death. "These are worst forms of atrocities ever done to any human and we highly condemn it," said Geelani.


[Bashir Assad is a senior Journalist based in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir. He is now Bureau Chief (J&K) of IndianMuslimObserver.com. He can be contacted at bashirassad@rediffmail.com]

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