Srinagar: Amnesty International on Thursday urged state government to ensure an independent investigation into the killing of a 24-year-old student, Khalid Muzafar Wani, by the army in Tral area of Pulwama district on Monday.
The global rights watchdog also urged army to cooperate and “not try to shield soldiers from prosecution.”
Army claimed Monday that Khalid was an “overground worker” for the Hizbul Mujahideen and was killed in a gunfight in Tral forest. However his father contested the claims, saying Khalid was not associated with the Hizb and that he was “tortured to death” for being brother of Burhan, the suspected Hizb commander believed to be active in Tral.
“The Jammu and Kashmir government must ensure a swift, thorough and impartial investigation to determine if Khalid Muzafar Wani was killed in an extrajudicial execution. They must also look into the family’s claims that he was targeted because of his brother’s suspected links with (the) armed group (Hizbul Mujahideen),” said Shemeer Babu, Programmes Director at Amnesty International India in a statement issued here.
“If sufficient evidence is found, those suspected must be prosecuted in a civilian court. Army authorities must co-operate with the investigation, and not try to shield soldiers from prosecution.”
The UN principles on the effective prevention and investigation of extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions, he said, require that there shall be thorough, prompt and impartial investigation of all suspected cases.
Bahu said that the Director-General of Police told Amnesty International that the student’s brother was a senior member of the Hizbul Mujahideen, and police was investigating whether Khalid also had any links to armed groups.
However, Kashmir inspector general of police was quoted by a local English Daily, even before the investigation had begun, as saying that Khalid “was an over ground worker of militants and there is no doubt about his involvement in militancy”.
Quoting police, Babu said Khalid along with three other friends, had gone to meet his brother in Kamla forests.
“The three other men are in police custody. The police say an autopsy has been carried out, whose results will be made public soon. They also claim to have found the body of another suspected member of an armed group from the Kamla forests on Tuesday.”
Khalid’s father Mohammed Muzaffar Wani told Amnesty that his son had been a victim of staged extrajudicial execution.
“My son’s body had no bullet wounds on it. His head had severe injuries and several teeth had been pulled out,” Khalid told Amnesty, Bahu said.
Reiterating demand for repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, the Amnesty said the law provides armed forces with sweeping powers and virtual immunity from prosecution, as the state government has to seek central government’s permission to persecute them.
“This permission is almost never given. The law has facilitated grave human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, and torture and other ill- treatment,” Babu said and demanded repeal of the Act.