Eleven years later, family of teenager ‘beaten to death in custody’ awaits justice

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The family of one of the teenagers killed in the 2010 civilian uprising has demanded the filing of charge sheet against the police personnel who allegedly tortured their son in custody leading to his death at a hospital in Srinagar.  

Seventeen-year-old Umar Qayoom allegedly died at SKIMS hospital in Srinagar after his internal organs were “damaged after police beat him during detention” at Soura police station in Srinagar, in August 2010. He was the only son of Abdul Qayoom Bhat, a local shopkeeper, and the father of three daughters.

On 25 August 2010, “four days after he was released by Soura police station from custody”, Qayoom had succumbed to injuries at the hospital due to “respiratory hypertension with severely deranged blood gases, diffuse intrapulmonary hemorrhage and blunt trauma on chest,” as per the hospital records in possession of The Kashmir Walla.

In 2011 the family had moved an application before the court seeking an FIR  into his death wherein they had mentioned that Qayoom was “arrested by the personnel of Soura police station Soura and was beaten mercilessly”.

On his eleventh death anniversary, Qayoom’s family held a press conference in Srinagar to demand the filing of a charge sheet as nearly three years have passed after the First Investigation Report (FIR) was filed on the directions of Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Srinagar in 2018 but police have failed to submit a chargesheet into the case.

An FIR into his death was filed at Police Station Soura on the directions of the CJM on 9 September 2018 under FIR No. 97 of 2018 under section 302 RPC, the copy of which lies with The Kashmir Walla.

“Despite the passing of three years since an FIR was lodged into the case, after 8 years of fighting for justice in the court, police have not filed a chargesheet in the case,” the family said.

In August 2018, the CJM had directed police to constitute a Special Investigation Team headed by Gazetted Officer assisted by at least three officers who should take off the investigation forthwith.  The order further reads, “that Senior Superintendent of Police shall monitor the said investigation as directed in previous order passed in the instant case.”

Qayoom’s sister, Urzeeba demanded answers from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying, “I want to ask our Prime Minister Modi who said in 2019 that there will be Naya Kashmir. I want to ask him, where is Naya Kashmir? Does it take 8 years to file an FIR and 3 years to file a chargesheet in Naya Kashmir? Is this Naya Kashmir?”

“My brother (Umar Qayoom) was mercilessly beaten to death by police after he was arrested by police in 2010 when agitation in Kashmir was at a peak,” said Urzeeba.

During Omar Abdullah led government more than 100 civilians were killed by the government forces during the mass uprising in Kashmir, which started in June 2010 after the Army claimed to have killed three “Pakistani infiltrators” who later turned to be civilians from Nadihal area of Baramulla and were killed in a “staged encounter”.

A government constituted Justice Koul Commission, which had to investigate the civilian killings of 2010, had also recommended registration of a case against police personnel responsible for the “custodial” death of Qayoom.

In Qayoom’s case, the court had also directed the Divisional Commissioner to enquire into the matter as to why proceedings under section 176 Criminal Procedure Code have not been completed so far and report submitted to the concerned authority.

The then concerned Station House Officer in Soura police station had submitted a report that Qayoom along with two other persons were apprehended by personnel of the Soura police station and taken under preventive measures under section 107 and 151 Cr.PC. They were accordingly produced before the Executive Magistrate 1st Class, North on 21/8/2010.

In 2010, The Kashmir Walla had reported Qayoom’s death and the then concerned executive magistrate, Bashir Ahmed Balkhi, had told The Kashmir Walla that he also asked the Station House Officer to approve Qayoom’s bail but he didn’t agree. “I told him I will be a guarantee for his bail but he didn’t accept my word,” he had said.

Urzeeba, who is adamant to fight for justice, says that her fight is not with anyone but justice for her brother. “I have a problem with the justice system here. I know there might be consequences but I am ready to face everything and will fight for my brother till my last breath,” she added. 

Referring to the delays in the investigation, Urzeeba questioned why the “justice system in Kashmir is so weak that it took them 8 years to lodge an FIR. “Thanks to Advocate Babar Qadri with whose support an FIR was lodged,” she said, referring to the advocate, who was assassinated by unknown gunmen at his home in Srinagar on 24 September 2020. 

“Police were given 42 days to file a chargesheet into the case but it has been 3 years but the charge sheet has not been filed before the court,” she added. 

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