North Kashmir's Sopore town erupted with angry protests on Sunday after a 26-year-old youth was allegedly killed in police custody. Red-faced chief minister Omar Abdullah promised "swift and exemplary action" as two policemen were suspended and a police officer attached.
The victim, Nazim Rashid, a resident of Sopore's Alamdar Mohalla, 55 km north of Srinagar, was picked up last night by a police team. "The youth was detained last night in connection with the killing of Ashraf Dar, a labourer, recently. He was with the militants when Dar was shot dead," said Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Sopore Ashiq Hussain.
Dar, according to the police, was shot dead by militants on Thursday outside his house. Another civilian was also killed by suspected militants on Sunday last in Sopore area.
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets against the custodial killing. Marching demonstrators were confronted by security forces deployed at Sopore town. Six protesters were injured when security forces charged at the protesters with batons and tear-smoke shelling, fuelling stone battles between the security forces and the protesters.
Describing the death as "a gross human right violation and inexcusable", chief minister Abdullah said, "Swift and exemplary action will be taken. No delays, no cover ups, no excuses. That's all I can promise and ensure."
Soon after the Abdullah's statement, a government spokesman said, the district magistrate has appointed a board of doctors and initiated proceedings. "A case of custodial killing under Section 302-RPC has also been registered," said the spokesman.
"The guard commander and a sentry were suspended. The DySP operations Sopore have been attached," said the spokesman. "Further action shall be taken based on the medical report and the findings of the magistrate."
Opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti, however, attacked the chief minister. "Ordering a probe in every atrocity has become a ritual for Abdullah as none of such inquiries has ever resulted in any action against the culprits," she said.
She alleged "the custodial killing was the unfortunate consequence of the government license to police and security forces to use all methods for maintenance of a surface calm."
Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani said "the killing bear testimony to the barbaric rule of the police."
Geelani, who called for peaceful protests, alleged the youth was beaten to death. "These are worst forms of atrocities ever done to any human and we highly condemn it," said Geelani.