Srinagar: The family of Rizwan Assad Pandith, 28, has termed his death under police custody as a “cold blooded murder”.
The family also said that Rizwan, a resident of south Kashmir’s Awantipora area, was a school principal, was running his own tutorial, and had just started his life afresh.
“Rizwan was booked under false charges and then arrested. He was not affiliated with any militant group. It was a cold blooded murder under police custody,” Rizwan’s brother, Zulkarnain Assad said.
Zulkarnain said, two days ago, police officials including the deputy superintendent of police from a local police station cordoned off their house during the night.
“They took out all of our family members and then locked them up in one room including females,” he said
“Later, they caught hold of Rizwan and took him away along with them”.
Next day, the family member said they visited the local police station, Awantipora, to know the whereabouts of Rizwan.
“The police told us not to communicate it to anyone (about arrest of Rizwan). They told us they will let them know about him,” Zulkarnain said.
“Then they told us that he was lying with the Cargo component of police in Srinagar. They said they can’t be helpful (with respect to his release)”.
The family said it was on Tuesday morning that they came to know that he was “killed” under police custody in Cargo component of Special Operations Group of police, Srinagar.
“He was under custody of police and was killed during interrogation,” Zulkarnain said.
“It is a cold blooded murder”.
According to sources, Rizwan was actually picked up by National Investigation Agency (NIA) and later was lodged at Cargo Srinagar to investigate a militancy related case.
Starting a fresh life
The family said that that Zulkarnain was arrested under Public Safety Act (PSA) in September 2018.
His PSA was quashed on November 30, 2018.
“Rizwan was lodged in Kathua jail. When his PSA was quashed he was kept illegally in the local police station,” Zulkarnain said.
The family said despite acquiring bail orders from Pulwama court, Rizwan was kept under police lock-up.
“They kept him for 15-20 days. And later, let him go,” Zulkarnain said
“From past two and half months, he has started his life afresh. He was running his own institute at Awantipora. He was also working as a school principal at Sabir Abdulla Public School Jawbhara, Awantipora”.
Rizwan had a Masters degree in Science and education and was un-married.
The family said that Rizwan and his father, Assadulla Pandith, both were affiliated with Jamaat-e-Islami.
“It is not a crime to be associated with Jamaat,” Zulkarnain stressed.
The police records reveal that Rizwan was detained thrice. He was detained under PSA on 08/09/2018 vide DMP /PSA/28 in case FIR No. 146/2018 U/S 7/25 I. A. Act 18, 20, 38 UL Act of P/S Awantipora.
His PSA was quashed on 30/11/2018. Then, police records reveal Rizwan was again arrested on Dec 2018 and on the same day the subject was released.
“Yesterday on 18/03/2019 he was once again arrested and was detained in P/S Awantipora,” the police records state.
In its official statement, the police said that Rizwan was being investigated in a “terror” related case and died under custody
“In pursuance of terror case investigation, one suspect Rizwan Pandit R/o Awantipore was in police custody. The said person died in police custody,” police said.
“In this matter while following the procedure laid down in section 176 of crpc a magisterial enquiry is underway. Separately police investigation has also been initiated in the jurisdictional area of incident”.