Father's 8-year struggle for justice bears fruit

Father's 8-year struggle for justice bears fruit

“I even entered into verbal duals with the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) chairman for postponing the hearing again and again. I have hardly slept properly over the past eight years,” said Bhat.

The pain of seeing his son dying from a beating at the hands of the police was too much, and yet Abdul Qayoom Bhat took upon himself the onerous and grim task of fighting to get justice for his seventeen-year-old deceased son.

And, finally, after a long and arduous battle that saw him knock at the doors of so many people and forums, a court direction finally vindicated his long struggle. The police was directed by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Srinagar,  to register an FIR and set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe his death afresh.

“It’s been a long wait of eight years that I finally got some amount of relief in the form of FIR registered under section 302 (murder) against police,” a visibly happy Bhat told Greater Kashmir. “The final justice would be when those who merciless thrashed my son would be put behind the bars and punished for killing my son.”  

In August 2010 when Kashmir was bristling with pro-freedom street demonstrations, Bhat’s son, Umar Qayoom, was picked up by the police, and, according to his father, beaten up in such a brutal fashion in the police lock-up that he died five days later in a hospital. 

“I even entered into verbal duals with the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) chairman for postponing the hearing again and again. I have hardly slept properly over the past eight years,” said Bhat.

Holding a copy of the FIR in his hands, Bhat said that his son was detained on August 20, 2010 for participating in a stone-throwing protest. “I even had an argument with the police officials for thrashing my son to the pulp just because he threw a few stones at them during protest. Such was the impact of police beating, lungs and kidneys of my son had got fully damaged and he was vomiting blood.”

And finally, a direction from the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Srinagar, Aijaz Ahmed Khan directed the police to lodge an FIR into Umar’s death and to constitute a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the case afresh.

For four days, Umar was kept on a ventilator at SKIMS and on August 25 he succumbed.  “I was even offered Rs 5 lakh to withdraw the case but I rejected the offer and continued to fight for the justice,” said Bhat, who works as an employee in the Muslim Waqif Board.

He believes the first step towards getting justice for his dead son was to get an FIR registered. “I am hopeful that my hard work would bear the fruit and the policemen who beat up my son in custody like animals, would be punished,” said Bhat. On the directions of CJM Srinagar, police has already constituted a SIT to probe the case afresh.

“Yes, we have registered an FIR and SIT has been formed to probe the case (of Umar Qayoom) again,” senior superintendent of police (SSP) Srinagar, Imtiaz Ismail said.

However, what has disappointed the family of Umar, is the fresh reply from the J&K Government’s Grievance Cell that states that case stands closed. “District Magistrate Srinagar had ordered an inquiry into the death of Umar and Tehsildar north Srinagar was appointed as the inquiry officer,” reads the reply from the Grievance Cell. 

“The conclusion report of inquiry officer reveals as in absence of the sufficient proof/witness and refusal of post-mortem by the parents, the suspicious death of Umar is not established and the case was closed.” The Umar’s family, however, terms government’s reply as a move to hide the reality. “This is aimed at giving new twist to the case and to shield the culprits,” said Umar’s father.