Sopore Police close FIR in 2010 drowning case

Srinagar: Police has closed the FIR regarding killing of a 15-year old boy of Sopore, who jumped into Jehlum to evade arrest and drowned in 2010. The police stated that the death was “accidental”.
Zubair-ul-Hassan Bhat of Jamia Qadeem Sopore, died of drowning on 13 April 2010, after he along with his four other friends was chased and cornered by the police and CRPF on river side in Jamia Qadeem leaving them with no option but to jump into the water.
According to the information furnished by the police in reply to the RTI application filed by Zubair’s father, Ghulam Hassan Bhat, two FIRs in the case had been filed -one by the police regarding the general situation on that day and another regarding the killing of Zubair, two years after the incident on directions of the court.
According to RTI reply, the police have closed the first FIR on December 7, 2011 as “untraced” and another as “not admitted” on February 24, 2013 and the police have concluded the investigation by stating that Zubair died by accident.
However, the family contests the police’s claim saying that Zubair’s death was not accidental, but a “murder” by the police.
Giving the details of the whole incident Ghulam Hassan Bhat said:
“That day whole town was observing a strike on the call of Hurriyat Conference against the life sentence awarded to some Kashmiri youth in Rajasthan. A group of police and CRPF personnel led by the then SP Altaf Ahmad Khan, DSP Harmeet Singh and SHO of Sopore Police Station, Aftab Ahmad had put blockade on Jamia Qadeem Bridge. There was no stone pelting or protests going on. My son along with his four other friends went out to play cricket and when police spotted them on road, SP Altaf ordered his men to chase them,” said Bhat.
He said that the boys ran towards the riverside where they were cornered by the police from all sides and in order to evade arrest, they jumped into the water.
“My son did not know swimming. While jumping, one of his friends had held his hand to save him from drowning. But the police and CRPF threw stones at them due to which he lost his grip on my son and he died of drowning while other four boys managed to escape from other side of river,” Bhat said.
He said that after the incident, police and CRPF resorted to areal firing and tear gas shelling and did not allow anyone to come out of homes at least for two hours.
Bhat said he had to request the SP to stop shelling to enable the family to look for the body which was retrieved after three hours. He said that after few days, he went to police station, Sopore to file FIR regarding the killing of his son, but the SHO refused to file it.
“So I went to court, which after one year directed the SP, Sopore to file an FIR against the killing and give compliance report regarding the incident. The SP in its compliance report told the court that the case is being investigated and will be concluded on logical grounds. But, when I went to police station to file FIR the SHO refused to file it again,” said Bhat.
He said that he again went to court which after six months issued fresh direction to police to file a FIR into the killing and investigate the matter.
“The SHO told me that he will assist me to make a SRO case of it and help me to get ex gratia money. I refused and insisted him to file an FIR,” said Bhat.
He said that the police filed an FIR, but did not take any action to investigate the matter.
“They rather came to my house and threatened me through different ways. They even filed a stone pelting case against one of the friends of my son who was willing to give his statement before the police,” said Bhat.
With no further development or any information provided by the Police in the matter, Bhat said that he, last year, filed an RTI application to know the status of the case.
“But, I was shocked to know that the police have closed the case as untraced and not admitted. My son’s death was not an accident, but a murder by police,” said Bhat.
He said that, given the police’s and state’s response towards cases of other human rights abuses, he knows that he will not get the justice.