Kashmir protester run over: CRPF terms charges 'baseless' even as victim's family presses for murder case

Srinagar: The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) reacted sharply to the Jammu and Kashmir Police registering a case of rash and negligent driving against its driver in the case of Kaiser Ahmed, the youth who died after being run over by its vehicle and termed the charges "baseless."

Protesters gather around a CRPF vehicle as it runs over a man during a protest in Srinagar. AP

Protesters gather around a CRPF vehicle as it runs over a man during a protest in Srinagar. AP

Ahmed died on Friday after being run over by a CRPF vehicle outside Jamia Masjid—Kashmir’s largest mosque—after he offered prayers. Meanwhile, Ahmed's family has demanded that CRPF personnel, including a senior officer who was in the vehicle, be booked for murder.

Even as Kaiser succumbed to his injuries on Friday, Mohammad Younis Bhat was wounded and is undergoing treatment at the Sher-I-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS). Ahmed's family said he had not been pelting stones and was heading home to the nearby Fatehkadal area on his motorbike.

Jammu and Kashmir Police said they registered a case under Section 304-A of Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) against the CRPF driver for causing “death due to rash and negligent driving” while the youth who were pelting stones on the vehicle were booked for attempt to murder under Section 307 of RPC.

“We will seek the arrest of the driver. We will carry out the formalities and collect the medico-legal documents of the boy and record statements. After the vehicle is identified and seized, the arrest will be made,” said Superintendent of Police Sajad Ahmad.

Sajad added that CRPF vehicle was stopped by the youth at Shampora Chowk in Nowhatta area of Srinagar where Ahmed was killed. A police official also said that earlier, only a case of “injury” caused due to rash driving was registered, and under that offence the police can release the driver on bail after a written assurance that he will present himself at the police station when summoned.

However, CRPF spokesman Sanjay Sharma termed the case against the driver "baseless": "There was no scope for the vehicle to even crawl. Our officer and personnel managed to escape else they'd have been lynched." Sharma added that besides the second-in-command of the 28 Battalion of CRPF, the vehicle was carrying four other personnel.

"Those four people were part of his escort. The CRPF officer was on duty and the crowd had no business surrounding the vehicle. The crowd was looking for a soft target. The gentleman was not going for a picnic, he was there to check the deployment,” Sharma added. Sharma further said that if the police arrest their driver, the CRPF would contest the charge.

Even as the Jammu and Kashmir Police said they would arrest the driver, separatists and Ahmed's family accused the cops of "covering up the crime." The Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) said that the police registered a case of only rash driving even though it was plainly a case of murder. The JRL said, "They (security forces) are killing Kashmiris either by bullets, pellets or lately crushing them under their vehicles.”

Ahmed's family accused the police of trying to stop the funeral procession from their Fatehkadal residence in Srinagar to the graveyard in Eidgah, where he was buried.  “The police fired tear gas shells on the mourners which left many injured,” said Ahmed's 27-year-old cousin Suheem Ashraf.

Suheem also demanded that “murder charges should be pressed against the CRPF personnel.” He added that the body was ferried in a truck to the graveyard and many people couldn’t offer funeral prayers after the use of “excessive force” by the police.

Ahmed is survived by two sisters, one of whom is pursuing a law degree and the other is in Class 11. Ahmed's parents died a few years ago. Some of Ahmed's family also said they feared reprisals if they continue their pursuit of justice.

Suheem said that after the driver “remorselessly” ran over his cousin, Ahmed was taken to a local hospital by some youth. He added that after Ahmed's condition worsened, he was taken for specialised treatment to SKIMS where he eventually passed away.

Images of Ahmed being run over have gone viral, leading to protests on streets and an outpouring of emotion on social networking sites accusing the police of being "soft" on security forces. Human rights activists say that in most cases, the security forces use Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) to not allow trials in criminal cases in local courts,

“Major Leetul Gogoi, who used a Kashmiri citizen as a human shield wasn't even arrested. Which shows how soft the police is on the army and CRPF," said human rights activist Ehsan Untoo.

Frequent clashes occur between security forces and youth near the Jamia Masjid. Two weeks ago, many youth were injured after security forces fired pellets and lobbed tear gas at those raising anti-India and pro-freedom slogans.

 


Updated Date: Jun 03, 2018 20:34 PM

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