Questions that need answers

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The death of a youth from Sopore, who was in police custody, has once again shocked people in the Valley. Irfan Ahmad Dar, a youth from a Sopore locality was arrested by the police on 15th of September. At the time of his arrest, police claimed that he was an Over Ground Worker (OGW) of some militant outfit and also claimed of recovering two grenades from his possession. On the same day in the evening, Dar was found dead near a stone quarry with torture marks on his body. As the news broke out and people in Dar’s locality took to streets protesting against the alleged custodial killing, police came out with another statement. It made some further claims saying during the course of investigation, a police team visited Chairdaji area of Tujjar-Sharief along with OGW for affecting some more recovery on the disclosure of the OGW who while taking advantage of darkness and terrain managed to escape and during searches he was found dead near Stone Quarry of Tujjar-Sharief.

The police statement fails to convince anyone. A cursory look at the statement indicates that the attempt is to cover up something. For all practical purposes, Dar was under police detention thus police protection. For arguments sake let us agree that he was an OGW and some grenades were recovered from his possession, but wasn’t he supposed to be safe in police custody. Wasn’t it the responsibility of the concerned police station to ensure his safety? Once again let’s agree for arguments sake that he was leading the police party to some place where they expected more recoveries, was he not handcuffed? How could have he ran away? And if he really ran away, how he died?

These are the questions and there are much more questions than these which the authorities have to answer the sooner, the better. Now that District Magistrate Baramulla reportedly has ordered a probe into the death/killing of the Sopore youth, let the probe be conducted fairly and fearlessly and let the findings be shared with the family of the deceased and the people of the Valley in a transparent manner. Though people here have lost all faith in government ordered inquiries and probes, but hoping against the hope, they expect the present dispensation to be more receptive than the previous ones.

The Lt. Governor administration is confronted with a challenge and if it deals with it in an honest and transparent manner, it may help to reduce the graph of alienation amongst the populace. Equally important is the claim of three Rajouri families who insist that three militants killed in Shopian on July 18 were not militants but their kin who were murdered in a fake encounter. Their DNA samples have been taken but still there is no word from the officials about the allegation. Though the Lt. Governor, Manoj Sinha has promised that the Rajouri families will get justice, he will have to keep in mind that justice delayed is justice denied.

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