Chinks in the police cover-up story, where they tried to pass off the killing of Srinagar schoolboy Tufail Ahmad Matoo (17) in police action at Rajouri Kadal as mysterious death, has started showing up.
Eyewitnesses, family accounts and doctors’ statement pointed fingers towards the police for being responsible for Matoo’s death on Friday ---- which has sparked off a spate of protests across Kashmir and are showing no let up.
“Our doctor was present at the time of post-mortem and I also saw the body. They say there was residue of teargas-smoke shell inside the head. The hair was burnt too, which was visible,” said one of the relatives the deceased student.
Matoo’s death is fourth this year, who allegedly fell to either security forces’ bullets or smoke-shells. All the youth killed were under 20 years of age.
Matoo was caught in the clashes between the police, CRPF and protesters on Friday afternoon prayers. Residents of Rajouri Kadal, who saw Matoo felling to the ground inside the Ghani Memorial Stadium, said the policemen approached the body, kicked it and left when they found him dead.
“The police are lying that it’s a mysterious death and some two commuters in a Maruti car was responsible for the killing. We all saw police approaching Matoo when he collapsed on the ground. They checked on him. When they found him dead, they left the stadium. They did not bother to take the victim to hospital,” said a Rajouri Kadal resident, pleading not to be named.
On Friday, police fired teargas smoke shells and used baton to disperse a small protesting mob near Rajouri Kadal. According to eyewitnesses, the police chased the protesters till the stadium where Matoo was present.
The police on Friday ruled out the boy died in any police action or by smoke-shell. A police spokesman said: “As per medical examination of the wound of the victim, the case appears to be of a deliberate murder. The police are on the look out of the two persons who dropped the deceased at the SMHS hospital in a Maruti car and disappeared from the scene.”
However, doctors who operated upon Matoo do not rule out smoke-shell. “The head was hit with extreme force by some object. It had entry wound and brain matter was damaged. There was no exit wound so bullet could be ruled out on the face of it but not tear-smoke-shell,” said one of the six doctors who attended Matoo on condition of anonymity.
Highly placed sources told the Hindustan Times, DIG, Central Kashmir, Deepak Kumar, has started an internal inquiry to know the cause and circumstances of death. Sources said two constables, who fired smoke-shells on Friday, have been identified. But senior police officers denied commenting on the issue awaiting post-mortem report.
“We haven’t received post-mortem report yet. Action will be taken once we reach any conclusion,” SSP Srinagar Riyaz Bedar told the Hindustan Times.
In the past too, the police made a victim killed in police action as an accused after death. On January 31, Wamiq Farooq was killed after being hit by a tear-smoke shell in the same stadium where Matoo was found in the pool of blood. After the probe instituted by the police, Farooq was declared as miscreant and a case was filed against him. No policemen were booked in the killing. Farooq’s parents are battling a case in a court against the police dubbing their 13-year-old son as miscreant.
January 8: Inayat Khan (16) died in police action when a fierce clash broke out between seceurity forces and militants at Lal Chowk. Police chased civilians on a bridge near the encounter site injuring Khan, who later succumbed on January 9.
January 31: Chasing a group of protesters near Gani Memorial Stadium at Rajouri Kadal, the police fired a tear-smoke shell that hit the 13-year-old Wamiq Farooq, killing him on spot.
February 05: A BSF officer shot at youth near Nishat, east of Srinagar, killing Zahid Farooq, 16 on the spot.