Kupwara: Protests erupted in Kupwara after a half-charred, mutilated body of an 8-year-old boy, who was missing for the past four days, was found on Thursday evening in a village orchard.
Umer Farooq Malik, son of Farooq Ahmad Malik, resident of Gulgam village in Kupwara district, left home on Monday afternoon, family sources said, to go play with other children. He did not come back home. Family members and neighbours began a search which proved futile. On Tuesday, the family went to police station Kupwara to register a missing complaint.
On Thursday evening, locals spotted the body of a child in an orchard in Gushi village. It had serious burn injuries and an arm had been amputated from the body.
The locals informed the police, who reached the spot and took the body into custody. The police called the parents for identification. The parents identified the body by its structure and by the clothes on it.
Soon after the news reached Gulgam village, hundreds of people reached police station Kupwara and held protests against the police. Slogans against India and in favour of freedom were also shouted.
Sources said that after the intervention of some elders, the people agreed to let the police shift the body to District Hospital Baramulla for medical examination. Police sources said that after the medical check-up it was established that it was a case of murder. Police registered an FIR (192/2018) under Sections 302 (murder) and 363 of RPC and a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by ASP Kupwara Shafqat Hussain was formed to investigate the case.
SSP Kupwara AS Dinker could not be contacted as his mobile phone was out of reach on Friday afternoon.
Local sources said that a shutdown was observed in Kupwara district on Friday, with most shops and business centres closing down in main town Kupwara, Kralpora, and other areas. Public transport was also affected.
A group of people from Gulgam and neighbouring Batargam village held a protest against the killing soon after the child was buried at the local graveyard.
To avoid any untoward incident, class work at Government Degree College Kupwara and Government Degree College Sogam was suspended by the authorities on Friday. The administration deployed extra police and paramilitary in the district to maintain law and order.
Talking to reporters, the mother of the deceased child said that Umer was her lone son among seven daughters and was studying in Class 3. She said that her husband worked as a labourer. She appealed to the government to identify the culprits and mete out the severest punishment to them.
A relative of the family said that one arm of the child had been amputated and there were injury marks on the neck, indicating that the child had been hung from the neck.
Deputy Commissioner Kupwara Khalid Jahangir said that the situation in the district remained peaceful on Friday. He said two colleges were closed only as a precautionary measure. He said an SIT had been formed and it was investigating the matter. He assured that the SIT will complete its probe soon and the culprits will be behind bars. He appealed to people to cooperate with the SIT.
Gulgam is a small village close to Batargam village, three to four kilometres from main town Kupwara, on the Kupwara-Kralpora road.
On June 9, police had recovered the charred body of an unidentified youth from Kralpora forests. Police are still investigating that case.