Total Pageviews

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Shopian erupts over tanker driver’s death

Residents: Killed by CRPF; Police: Got hit while repairing vehicle

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jul 31: Death of a tanker driver in mysterious circumstances last night has led to mayhem in the south Kashmir district headquarters of Shopian today. Even as Police claimed that the driver had got fatally hit while repairing his vehicle and a Special Investigation Team (SIT) has been constituted to hold a thorough inquiry, hundreds of residents leveled allegation of “killing” against CRPF, enforced shutdown, damaged two ambulances and clashed with Police for several hours of the day.

Independent sources in south Kashmir told Early Times that a 24-year-old driver of a private water tanker, namely Mohammad Aaquib Bhat S/o Mohammad Yousuf Bhat R/o Balpora, Shopian, was admitted to District Hospital Shopian at about 9.00 p.m. last night. Complaining of severe pain in his abdomen, he was bleeding through his mouth. He was brought to the hospital by driver and cleaner of another private water tanker, Mukhtar Ahmad Bhat and Ashfaq Ahmad Ganai, both residents of Qazigund.

Mukhtar and Ashfaq revealed to the doctors that their fellow tanker driver was first examined by Army doctors at MI Room of Headquarters RR 44 Bn but they found his condition as grave and referred him to the District Hospital. On examination, doctors at the Shopian hospital too found his condition unstable and referred him for specialized treatment to a Srinagar hospital. Meanwhile, his uncle, Bashir Ahmad Bhat, and aunt, Haseena, also reached the District Hospital. As they began rushing him to Srinagar in an ambulance, Aaquib breathed his last.

The dead body was brought back to DH Shopian where doctors conducted post mortem in the forenoon today. Late last night, Police recorded the statements of the driver, Mukhtar Ahmad Bhat, and cleaner, Ashfaq Ahmad Ganai. Thereafter, Police recorded the statements of the deceased driver Aaquib Bhat’s uncle, Bashir Ahmad Bhat, and aunt, Haseena.

News of the tanker driver’s death spread like a wild fire in Shopian and its adjoining villages. Within two hours in the forenoon, hundreds of people occupied and blocked different roads leading to Shopian and began demonstrations with the allegation that men of the CRPF camp at Balpora had “killed” Aaquib after a heated exchange and physical fight between him and guards of the paramilitary camp. Hundreds of the demonstrators converged on streets and enforced shutdown of business establishments and traffic, blocking a number of road leading to and originating from Shopian.

As the demonstrators shouted anti-forces, anti-India, anti-government and pro-Azadi slogans, they made repeated attempts to take the dead body into their custody. Police foiled their attempts, got the post mortem conducted by a team of doctors and subsequently handed over the dead body to the bereaved family at Balpora. Funeral prayers and other rites were performed peacefully and the burial took place late in the afternoon.

With most of the roads leading to Shopian blocked by angry crowds, DIG South Kashmir, Vijay Kumar, reached the disturbed township from the tedious Kellar-Shopian route. He, alongwith SP Shopian, managed the crowds but not before violent clashes between the demonstrators and Police. It was during this melee that the crowds resorted to heavy stone pelting on Police and the District Hospital. Two ambulances of the hospital suffered extensive damage.

Medico-legal formalities, including post mortem, and collection of viscera, other organs and tissues for a detailed forensic analysis, were carried out amid mayhem in the town. Within same time, under directions from top corridors of the state government, including DGP Ashok Prasad’s personal discussion with top rungs of bureaucracy and political establishment at Civil Secretariat, Shopian Police registered a “murder case” against unidentified assailants. Sources said that case FIR No: 249 of 2012 dated 31-07-2012 was lodged under section 304-A and 279 Ranbir Penal Code even before conducting necessary inquest under section 174 or 176 CrPC and obtaining results of the post mortem and the forensic analysis.

This action, to an extent, pacified the crowds though they persisted with their protest and shutdown at the district headquarters. A Police party, headed by SP Shopian, later escorted the dead body to Balpora and handed it over to the bereaved family. Emotional scenes marked arrival of the dead body. Reports said that some youngsters subjected the Police party to stone pelting but Police observed restraint and returned to Shopian.

Speaking to Early Times over telephone, DIG Vijay Kumar said that Police registered case FIR No: 249 under sections 304-A and 279 RPC. He said that under his orders, SP Shopian constituted a SIT, comprising Dy SP Headquarters Shopian, SHO Shopian and a Sub Inspector for the purpose of detailed investigation into the circumstances that led to the young driver’s death in mysterious circumstances.

DIG said that all the accused, including men of the CRPF camp at Balpora, would be questioned to know the reality. He said that another tanker driver, Mukhtar Bhat, and cleaner, Ashfaq Ganai, stated before Police that they were taking siesta after evening prayers in their vehicle at 8.30 p.m. when they heard a scream. As they rushed out, they found Aaquib’s tanker some 20 yards away from the place he had parked it. He was bleeding through mouth and complaining of severe pain in his abdomen. They rushed him to the adjoining camp of Army’s RR 44 Bn headquarters where doctors examined him but referred him to DH Shopian.

According to the details available with DIG, doctors at DH Shopian found Aaquib in a critical condition and they referred him to a Srinagar hospital. On calling by Mukhatr and Ashfaq, Aaquib’s uncle and aunt reached DH Shopian. As he was being rushed to Srinagar at 9.45 p.m, Aaquib revealed to his uncle and aunt that he had got hit by his own tanker which was in neutral gear. It was in this brunt that he got badly hit in the interior of his abdomen. DIG said that both, Bashir Ahmad Bhat as well as his wife, Haseena, got their statement recorded before Police last night in which they declared that Aaquib had made a statement to them while dying.

On the other hand, residents of Shopian town leveled allegations that men of CRPF camp had “killed” Aaquib during an altercation. DIG said that the investigation would be conducted in a fairly professional manner and law would take its own course without succumbing to any pulls and pressures.

Police calls it accidental death
An official press release from zonal Police Headquarters said: “On 30-07-2012 at about 2130 hours, one Aaqib Ahmad Bhat son of Muhammad Yousuf, resident of Balpora, while repairing water Tanker bearing registration number JKo1A/9595 at Balpora got injured.  He was shifted to local Hospital where from he was referred to Srinagar hospital for further treatment. However, he died on way. Police has taken cognizance and started the investigation and FIR No. 249/12has been registered in Police Station Shopian. Today after conducting postmortem of the body the body was handed over to his legal heirs for last rites.

NC, Govt calls it ‘killing’
A press release from Department of Information of the Government of Jammu & Kashmir said: “Deputy Chairman State Legislative Council, Mr. M.Y. Tang has expressed deep anguish over the killing of youth Aquib Yousuf at Balpora, Shopian. He has demanded immediate enquiry in the matter so that culprits be brought to book immediately. While expressing sympathies with the bereaved family, he has demanded that due compensation may be released in their favour”.

Senior separatist leader and JKLF chairman, Yasin Malik, participated in a condolence meeting at Balpora. In his speech on the occasion he alleged that Aaquib had been killed by CRPF. He alleged that the real criminals were the mainstream (pro-India) politicians. In another statement, Chairman Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, too called Aaquib’s death a ‘killing by CRPF’. He argued that such “killings” would continue in Valley as long as armed forces enjoyed impunity under AFSPA.


No comments: