Rizwan Custody Death: Police Registers Case Against Him Posthumously

Srinagar: As the two investigations are going on in the sensational death in custody case of the private school principal, Rizwan Assad Pandit, the police have registered a case against him, two days after he was laid to rest. Pandit was arrested from his Awantipore home and two days later his corpse was handed over to the family.

“Two days after the death of a 28-year old Jammu and Kashmir teacher, who was detained in connection with the Pulwama attack case, the police filed an FIR against him for allegedly trying to escape from their custody, even as his family claimed that the wounds on his body suggested that he was brutally tortured to death by the cops,” Pune Mirror reported on March 22, 2019.

“Rizwan Pandit, a resident of Awantipora, used to teach at the Sabir Abdullah Jobwarara Awantipora School, a private school. He died in custody of Cargo Camp of Special Operations Group, Jammu and Kashmir Police, during the intervening night of March 18-19.”

Chennai based newspaper The Hindu said the “sequence of events following the custodial death” points to “the gaping holes in the police theory”.

“Three days after the death of Pandit on March 19 in police custody at Srinagar’s special counter-insurgency cell, Cargo, an FIR was lodged against the deceased for “an attempt to escape from a police vehicle” on the way to a location in south Kashmir,” the newspaper reported on Sunday. There are three police stations in Awantipora police district – Awantipora, Pampore and Tral.

The “escape case” has been lodged in the Khrew police station, not hooked up to the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS), which can be accessed online by the citizens, the newspaper said.

“Meanwhile, the magisterial inquiry was handled by the Pulwama district after the police case was lodged in Khrew and not by the Srinagar district administration where the death occurred,” the newspaper added.

The newspaper said though the police had claimed that Rizwan was rounded up for “a militancy-related case” that occurred at Pantha Chowk in Awantipora apparently last year, his name does not “figure in the police’s roznamcha”. The newspaper has accessed the police records.

The preliminary autopsy report, according to the newspaper, suggested that the death took place “at least 12 hours” prior to the autopsy on Tuesday afternoon. “It inferred that Pandit died on Monday evening, a day after he was picked up on February 17, and the family was intimated on Tuesday morning about the death,” The Hindu reported. The report had confirmed “excessive bleeding caused by deep wounds on his body” and “excessive bleeding can lead to fatal shock.”

The newspaper quoting the autopsy report of the Government Medical College, Srinagar, said the “external wounds have been suspected to be caused by some sharp object.”

The post-mortem report is apparently not in conflict with what the family has alleged. Scroll.in quoted his brother Mubashir saying: “His backbone was broken. There were bruises on his face and head. His thighs had been burnt down. What does it say other than that he was tortured?”

“On March 19, the police issued a statement saying that Rizwan Pandit, who had been detained in a “terror investigation”, had died in “police custody”,” the news portal reported. “The statement did not explain what had caused his death. It was also silent about which “terror investigation” had necessitated his detention”.

The website said that while Rizwan has been charged under Section 224 of the Ranbir Penal Code, for an attempt to escape from custody, there has been no FIR against the police officials in whose custody he died.