Sopore erupts after youth's death

The death of a 23-year old youth a day after his arrest by police triggered protests in Sopore area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district on Wednesday.

The youth has been identified as Irfan Ahmad Dar son of Muhammad Akbar Dar, resident of Sidiq Colony Sopore.

Police said the arrested youth was found dead after he escaped from their custody.

A police spokesperson said that the youth was an over ground worker of a militant outfit who was arrested with two grenades. He said the arrested youth was found dead after he escaped while being shifted to Chairdaji area of Tujjar Sharief for more recovery on his disclosure.

“While being shifted for more recoveries, the arrested man while taking advantage of darkness and terrain managed to escape. While launching search operation to re-arrest him, his body was spotted near a stone quarry in Tujjar Sharief.”

However, the family of the youth said he was killed in police custody and termed the police version a ‘concocted story.’

Javed Ahmad Dar, the elder brother of the youth, said that he along with his brother was arrested separately by police on Sep 15. “I was picked up at around 4 pm while my brother was arrested at 12.45 pm.”

Dar said they were placed separately in custody. “Since I was sick, I was allowed to return to home at around 11 pm. However, there was no clue about my brother. While arresting me they said they have reports that a militant has been sheltered in their house. However I asked them they can watch CCTV footage and check at least one and half month’s footage which will enable them to identify each person who has visited the house,” he said.

While terming his brother’s death a murder, Javed said, “My brother was a business man who was focussed only on his business. He has nothing to do with militancy and was a simple and innocent person,” he said.

Police didn’t hand over the body of the youth to the family, citing Covid pandemic. Instead, the body was buried by police in Sonamarg, 100 kilometres away.

“COVID19 protocol does not allow us to handover the body to the deceased’s family,” SSP Sopore, Javed Iqbal, said.

The SSP said that an arms recovery case has been filed vide FIR No. 257 of 2020 under section 18 UA (P) Act,7, in police station Sopore. “In connection with his escape a case vide an FIR No. 71 of 2020 under section 224 IPC was registered at police station Bomai.”

As the news of the death of Irfan Ahmad spread in the area, hundreds of people including women staged a strong protest demonstration at Sidiq Colony Sopore and demanded severe punishment to the “killers.” The people marched towards the Sopore-Kupwara highway and staged a massive protest against the “killing” of the youth. The traffic movement on the Sopore-Kupwara highway remained suspended for several hours.

“We know the slain youth for years. He was simply a business man and had nothing to do with militant activities. How can police kill innocent people in this manner? Let the state administration launch an impartial probe and arrest the policemen involved in this heinous crime,” said Muhammad Shaban, a relative of Irfan Ahmad.

Meanwhile, following the death the authorities snapped the internet services in Sopore area.