16-yr-old held by cops dies, kin allege torture

Aug 26

On Wednesday, one more teenager in the Valley succumbed to his injuries sustained allegedly during torture in the police custody, taking the toll in the ongoing two-and-a-half-month long unrest to 64. The news of his death triggered fresh protests at many places, forcing the police to use tear smoke canisters to disperse mob.

Sixteen-year-old Umar Bhat, an eyewitnesses alleged, was arrested by the police during a protest at Soura on Friday. “They banged him against the iron shutter of a shop before taking him to the lock-up,” claimed Imtiaz Ahmad, a protester at Aanchar, a locality in the vicinity of Soura.

Umar’s father, Abdul Qayoom Bhat, alleged that his son was in police custody for one night and was released on Saturday evening in an unstable condition. “We took him home, but late in the night he starting vomiting blood. We took him to a hospital. And now we have brought back his dead body,” said Bhat. Umar, he said, was his only son. “My son was tortured in custody. He was administered electric shocks,” he alleged.

A crowd of agitated youth came to Bhat’s house, waiting to take his son to burial. The noise was deafening, drowning the wails of the women coming from inside the house.

Umar, a police statement confirmed, had been arrested along with two others on Friday. “All the three were set free on the following day and handed over to their parents,” the statement said.

The doctors at the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences said Umar had suffered multiple injuries and could not be revived despite their best efforts. “The boy had intestinal and liver injuries,” said Director SKIMS Abdul Hamid Zargar, adding that he was on life support system for two days before they gave up hope of his recovery. Medical Superintendent Amin Tabish said the death was due to kidney and respiratory failure.

The death aggravated the already tense situation around Soura, a locality on the northern extremity of Srinagar. People were out on the streets shouting slogans and pelting stones at the police and CRPF men. The protesters set on fire a police and a private vehicle. There was also an attempt to burn the ancestral house of National Conference founder Shiekh Muhammad Abdullah. The police repeatedly fired in the air to keep the advancing protesters at bay.

Soura has been the scene of strife over the past week. On Thursday, CRPF personnel stationed at a local camp used pellet guns to break up crowds of the stone-throwing youth, injuring three members of a family. Government later withdrew the camp from the area — the first time government did so during the ongoing spell of unrest.

At Frestbal Pampore, 22-year-old Javid Ahmad was hit by a rubber pallet fired by CRPF at a group of protesters on the national highway. The youth suffered injuries in his neck and shoulder and was shifted to Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital here. Following this incident, curfew was re-imposed in different parts of the Valley.

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