He was taken to Cargo camp in Srinagar by police, says family of Rizwan Pandit, who taught at IUST in Awantipora, ran a school and coaching centre, was planning to do doctoral research
Awantipora: A 29-year-old post graduate in Physics – who headed a private school, operated a private coaching centre, and was guest faculty at the Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST) in Awantipora – was killed in police custody after being taken, according to his family, to police Cargo camp in Srinagar.
An official statement from the state police on Tuesday had only this to say: “In pursuance of terror case investigation… the said person died in police custody. In this matter while following the procedure laid down in Section 176 of CrPC, a magisterial enquiry is underway.”
Rizwan Assad Pandit, son of Assadullah Pandit, a resident of Awantipora area in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, was picked up from his home by local police on Sunday evening.
On Monday, when his family tried to contact him at the local police station, they were told that Rizwan had been whisked away by the police’s Cargo wing in Srinagar.
“The local police told us not to contact anyone. While we were still trying to figure out what to do, this morning the news of his murder reached us,” Zulqarnain Pandit, Rizwan’s brother, told Kashmir Reader.
The family says that Rizwan was hale and hearty when he was picked up by the local police team – headed by the area’s Deputy Superintendent of Police (DySP) – while his entire family was harassed.
“He has been murdered in cold blood and now they are telling lies that he just died. How can he? He has been tortured to death,” family members said.
The killing has left the Pandit family devastated and shocked. They say they have no faith in either a magisterial or judicial probe, given that hundreds of such probes have been ordered in the valley without any outcome.
“If at all anything is to be done, the people guilty of my brother’s murder should be hanged. Only then will we consider justice to be done,” Mubashir Assad, another brother of Rizwan, said.
Mubashir is a post graduate in Bio-Technology and teaches at Delhi Public School. Besides, he also teaches at the coaching center that was headed by Rizwan.
Mubashir maintains that his brother was being unnecessarily harassed by police and was released only two months back after serving around 4 months in detention under the controversial Public Safety Act (PSA).
“He was released only two months back from Kot Bhalwal jail in Jammu and was trying hard to get back to a normal life again. But it was not to be,” Mubashir told Kashmir Reader, as he broke into tears.
Rizwan comes from a well-respected and well-educated family of Awantipora. After completing his Masters from Dehradun, he was now planning to enrol in a doctorate degree at a local university. He was heading the Sabir Abdullah Public School (SAPS) – run under the Tahira Khanum Trust – in Awantipora.
His father Assadullah Pandit is a retired official of Central Government’s Handicrafts department and was also an Ameer-Halqa of the now banned Jama’at-e-Islami.
Following the recent ban on the Jama’at, while most of the prominent activists of the party were arrested, Assadullah was not. His son, however, was.
The family said it was no crime to be associated with the Jama’at. “Yes, my father is associated with the Jama’at and so was my brother. Is that a crime? Is that a reason to kill someone in cold blood?” Mubashir asked.
The family, meanwhile, was yet to receive the body of Rizwan at the time this report was filed.
They said that the police had taken away Rizwan from home and it is they who should deliver his body back home.
“That is the least they could do. Why should we go anywhere to receive his body?” the family said.
Rizwan’s killing was condemned across the valley. The last case of a custodial killing in Kashmir was reported in July 2011 when a 28 year old, Nazim Rasheed, was killed in police custody. A magisterial probe was ordered back then as well.
According to an Amnesty International report, published in January 1995, more than 715 detainees were killed by government forces in detention.
“They were allegedly tortured to death or shot outright,” the report by the human rights watchdog reads.
Such killings did not stop after 1995 and continued at least till 2011.