Tahir Sofi killing: Witnesses being arrested to stall probe, says family

Baramulla: Police is arresting key eyewitnesses to stall the probe ordered by the government into the killing of a young scholar by army here last year, the family said Tuesday.
27-year old Tahir Rasool Sofi , son of Ghulam Rasool Sofi, of Ganai Hamam, was killed and another youth, Muhammad Abbas Lalu, was injured when soldiers of 46 Rashtriya Rifles fired upon a group of youth near the Old Town Baramulla on March 5, 2013.
Tahir’s killing triggered massive pro-freedom and anti-India demonstrations. The authorities had clamped curfew in major towns and districts of the Valley, while the police filed a case against the RR unit. Two days after the killing, government announced ex-gratia relief of Rs six lakh to the family of the victim besides ordering a time bound magisterial probe. However, the family refused the ex-gratia as ‘blood money’.
The magisterial probe conducted by the then (ADM) Baramulla, Manzoor Ahmad Qadri had indicted army for killing the youth without any justification. “Even warning shots by the troops of 46 RR could have scared away the youth. Instead, they opened fire that resulted in the loss of an innocent life. There seems to be no valid reason in the action taken by personnel of 46 RR resulting in death of Sofi and injury to Lalu.”
Meanwhile, the family told Kashmir Reader that army and police were arresting and implicating witnesses in the case on false charges to scuttle the probe and to scare the other eyewitnesses who have got their statements recorded. Two of the key witnesses, the family said, have been arrested and slapped with fresh charges.
“If one of the youth was a stone pelter, as claimed by the police, then why did army arrest him from the shop,” the family asked. They said the arrests and booking of the youth on ‘false charges’ were aimed to create a scare among the eyewitnesses to stall the probe.
“The army and police are all out to shelter the killers. Their attempts will create scare among the 22 witnesses who have recorded their statements,” the family said.
The Deputy Commissioner (DC) Baramulla, Farooq Ahmad Lone told Kashmir Reader that he can’t comment on the allegations unless he goes through the records.
“I will have to check the facts before commenting on the issue,” Lone said.