Tufail Mattoo killing: Four years on, family awaits justice

Moazum Mohammad
Srinagar: After a two-month stay with their in-laws, Mohammad Ashraf Mattoo and his wife have just arrived in their one- storey house where the memory of their son haunts them.
Dressed in traditional attire with headscarf covering her head, Mattoo’s wife talks in a muffled tone and lets me into a room. She is the mother of Tufail Mattoo, who was killed by forces on this day four years ago.
17-year old Tufail’s killing turned out to be one of the major causes for the massive unrest in Kashmir in 2010. Tufail was returning home from tuition when a teargas shell hit him on the back of his head near Gani Memorial Stadium at Rajouri Kadal. He died on the spot. His death promoted spontaneous protests and five-month long agitation wherein more than 120 youth got killed in the action of police and forces.
Since then, this family is constantly proactive in looking for justice in their son’s killing. Justice for Mattoo, a middle-aged man, is a far cry; he has already rejected the government’s compensation as blood money. The roots of his anger lie in dithering moves of government in prosecuting the killers of Tufail.
“I am aghast. I have lost trust on the government. They resort to dillydallying and never made public the reports of inquiry commission. Special Investigation Team constituted by government misled the court of law on the insistence of the ruling party,” he says with moist eyes.
After Chief Minister Omar Abdullah led National Conference faced complete rout in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, Abdullah admitted handling 2010 unrest was one of the main causes responsible for the defeat of his party. The Chief Minister even considered widening the ambit of Commission of Inquiry (CoI) to all killings during the summer agitation of 2010. That time, the government restricted the scope of inquiry for 17 deaths only.
Abdullah’s statement, however, doesn’t impress Mattoo as past experience makes him bitter. “First let me know what happened to earlier inquiry commissions. It appears political gimmick to lure people towards them as Assembly election are near,” said he.
Ashraf Mattoo further told Kashmir Reader that one cannot trust the words of CM: “If he’s genuine let the government come out and indict the men involved in killing of innocent people that summer. We pinned hope on him at first but he ignored every opportunity. How can we trust his words now?”
The family is not aggrieved over their sole son’s loss only. It seeks justice for all cases, from Wamiq Farooq, a class 7 student, hit by a police teargas in January 2010 to those who were killed or received injury that year.
“There are countless people who lost their vital organs from the forces brutality. Who would provide them justice? Stone throwers are apprehended but not those who killed our kith and kin. Doesn’t this leave a huge question mark on the competence of the government,” he says.
Early this year, JK High Court ordered fresh investigations in the case and rejected the SIT’s closure report. That time the Court observed that attempts were made by the SIT to save certain officials. In its verdict, the court handed over the case to Crime Branch for fresh investigations.
“Let Crime Branch lay hands on the killers so that it will restore the credibility of Police,” he said.