Kashmir cop lynched: 20 held for beating Mohammad Ayub Pandith
Senior Jammu and Kashmir police officer Mohammad Ayub Pandith was allegedly lynched outside a mosque in Srinagar.india Updated: Jul 24, 2017 19:48 IST
No one knew who Jammu and Kashmir police officer Mohammad Ayub Pandith was on the night he was stripped and lynched in Srinagar last month and his identity became clear only the next morning, the Valley’s top police officer said on Monday.
Inspector general of police (Kashmir range) Muneer Khan told reporters that 20 people were arrested for the crime on June 23, when thousands had gathered for night-long congregational prayers on Islam’s holiest night of Shab-e-Qadr. The lynching was widely condemned across ideological leanings in the Valley and across the country.
Describing the events of the night, Khan said 57-year-old Pandith, who was in plainclothes, was confronted by four men coming out of Jamia Masjid allegedly shouting slogans in support of Zakir Musa, a top militant who has called for Islamic rule in Kashmir. The men allegedly were at the mosque to welcome separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
“Four of the miscreants saw the deputy SP checking the deployment -- he was on duty for access control. Then these four guys called him and started questioning him and asked for his I-card and he refused to give it. That is how the thing started. They started heckling, the number of miscreants swelled and rest is history,” Khan said.
Khan also ruled out any possibility of dereliction of duty by the police in the case and said apart from the darkness and the noise, no one knew of Pandith’s identity.
“The deputy SP was there to ensure the safety and security of all devotees who had come to pray at Jamia Masjid on Shab-e-Qadr night, including the Mirwaiz,” he said. “The body was defaced and disfigured, and his clothes were torn.” Khan also praised the cooperation of common people in the investigation.
Khan said one of the accused was Sajad Gilkar, who went underground after the incident and was killed in an encounter with security forces in Budgam on July 12. Prior to the lynching, Gilkar was, according to the police, booked under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) thrice and wanted in stone-pelting and stabbing cases.
The officer said the investigation would be completed within stipulated time. “The investigation of the case is going on in absolutely right manner, expeditiously and effectively. Some more arrests are expected and some more evidence is to be collected.”
Khan added that the police initially arrested three suspects and their questioning led to further arrests and the recovery of crucial pieces of evidence such as the iron rod allegedly used to hit Pandith, his pistol - from which he had fired in self-defence after being heckled by the mob - as well as his cell phone that was taken away by the attackers.
The three men, who were injured below the waist after Pandith fired in self-defence, have also been arrested as they allegedly were the ones who initially started heckling the police official, Khan said.