Srinagar: Sheikh Ashiq Ahmad, President of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Wednesday termed the death of Rizwan Pandith of Awantipora in police custody and the subsequent conduct of the State to be a ‘state sponsored act of terror.’
“Under the garb of fighting terror, the state seems to have declared a war on the civilian population. Repeated provocations, brutalization and killings of unarmed civilians population suggests that decisions have been taken to push Kashmir Valley into a situation of chaos and anarchy. Security agencies have been given a free hand to commit atrocities of the worst kind without any accountability,” Ahmed said in a statement.
He added, “No effective action has been taken to punish the killers. The responsibility of the state to protect lives of its citizens stands violated. The State has so far chosen to look the other way and only announced a magisterial enquiry. Till the time the enquiry is completed, the killers would be free to roam and commit more atrocities
in the society. The infructous results of earlier enquiries evoke little hope of justice being provided to the victims.”
Ahmad stated that the stakeholders of different political ideologies needed to not only condemn but also take responsibility for a joint response in this regard.
“Murder of unarmed civilians cannot be business as usual. The business community would be looking forward to a united effort from the society for ensuring that the course of justice is not impeded and guilty pay for shedding
innocent blood,” Ahmed further added.
Earlier, National Conference said that the Government must clarify under whose custody the murder of Awantipora youth happened.
NC said an FIR should be registered in the matter against the officials concerned.
“Whether the youth was in the custody of NIA or police, the responsibility lies at the door of the governor. The young teacher was in the custody of the state,” NC chief spokesman Aga Roohullah said.
Meanwhile, on the call of the Joint Resistance Leadership, Kashmir valley is observing a complete shutdown against the ‘custodial killing’ of Rizwan Asad Pandith, a school teacher associated with the Jamaat-e-Islami.
Shops and other business establishments are shut in the capital city Srinagar while public transport is off the roads. Reports of complete shutdown were also received from other district headquarters of the valley.
Rizwan Pandith, who was arrested by the police in a ‘militancy-related case’, died in police custody at CARGO camp in Srinagar last night, a police spokesman said in a statement.
National Investigation Agency (NIA) however denied reports that Rizwan Pandith who died while in their custody.
“NIA emphatically denies reports linking NIA with Rizwan Ahmed resident of Awantipora. He was neither called for questioning nor was he examined at any other location in connection with cases being investigated by NIA,” a statement by the agency read.
Joint Resistance Leadership has called it an ‘act of state terrorism’, and announced a shutdown in protest against the same.
Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA) has supported the strike call extended by Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) against the ‘brutal custodial killing’ of Awantipora youth Rizwan Pandith.
As soon as the news of the custodial death of Rizwan Pandith, a teacher in Awantipora reached the area, intense clashes erupted and a spontaneous shutdown was observed.
Reports said that all shops and other commercial establishments remained closed in the area while traffic went off the roads soon after news of death of Rizwan Pandith reached there.
Students at the University of Kashmir also staged a protest against the custodial death of Pandith and summons issued to Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
Reacting to the incident, Omar Abdullah demanded exemplary punishment to those responsible for the death of Pandith.
Peoples Conference Chief Sajad Lone in his reaction said that ‘this is what sanctity of human life has been reduced to in Kashmir.’