Police say communication with army going on; father says justice has been buried
Beerwah: Beyond the vast expanse of paddy fields and dense plantations of walnut trees, with green and golden autumn leaves, that line the road leading to this town on either side, a newly constructed house sits on top of a Kareva, lonely. An old man sits on the verandah under the trees holding a kangri close to his body for warmth.
He has a question in his eyes, but he speaks few words. I begin by enquiring if Tanveer Ahmad Wani lived here? Not any more, he says. Muhammad Akbar Wani, the slain youth’s father, drags himself up while he completes his answer, “He was buried, and justice was buried with him.”
Tanveer, a young tailor, was killed by the army on the afternoon of July 21 in Beerwah’s main market, about one kilometer from his home here in College Mohalla. The old man said that his “was a cold-blooded murder, but police have failed to make any arrests.”
Police tell us that our other son would be recruited as SPO, but how shall we sell the blood of our son against an SPO’s job? It can’t repay us for his life. We can’t take money against his martyrdom.”
I am invited inside the house to talk to the family who stare at me with empty eyes. Tanveer’s brother, Shabir, says “the same army unit of Major Leetul Gogoi (of the 53 Rashtriya Rifles)”, who tied a man to the bonnet of a military jeep as a human shield, “killed my brother”. They “must be punished”, the brother says.
Since his son was killed, Tanveer’s father says he started work in a stone quarry. He had developed a malignancy in 1999, and when Tanveer was alive, he had taken a retirement. His scaly hands and broken fingernails leave little to imagination about this old man’s struggles. “What else can I do? Meager income that my son brings can’t fill all the stomachs,” Wani says. “with my broken hands and my broken heart, I can’t sleep at night. But I know I have to go on.”
Although police have registered a case (FIR NO 74/2017) under section 307 (attempt to murder) of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) against 53 Rashtriya Rifles, a copy of which is with Kashmir Reader, no arrests have been made even after four months of Tanveer’s killing.
“I am shocked to see the murderers roaming free. Didn’t they kill my son? Delaying justice exposes the sincerity of police department,” Wani says.
Police, however, maintains that communication regarding the case has been established with the army. “We are investigating the case,” SSP Budgam Tijinder Singh said.
Wani though has no hope of justice. “It has become a routine now to delay justice by claiming that investigation is going on.”
On the day Tanveer fell in the market, two bullets had hit him – one in the mouth that exited through the back of his skull, and the other in his thigh. Troopers had fired at him after a “loud sound” startled everyone in the market before Friday prayers.
Eyewitnesses said that some kids burst a cracker, which made a loud noise. “Within no time, the patrol – consisting of eight to ten men – ran amok and started beating people,” said a shopkeeper.
A crockery seller said many vendors became victims of the troopers’ anger as they pillaged everything in the bus stand. “Then we thought they had gone. But almost 20 minutes later, there fired gunshots that killed Tanveer,” he said.
The distance between the place where children had presumably burst the cracker and the spot where Tanveer was shot, is a few hundred meters.
Shahid, a cabdriver, said that the patrol party walked past his shop, they grabbed a young boy by his collar and took him along. “The boy cried for help, and a small group of youth started shouting at troopers to leave him alone,” he said.
Tanveer was heading to mosque for Friday prayers when this commotion began. “As more and more people started shouting slogans in anger, and pelted stones on the troopers, they opened fire,” said another shopkeeper. “The next moment, we saw Tanveer lying on the road while the boy was still crying for help.”