‘Cold-Blooded Murder’: Slain J&K Youth’s Uncle Refutes CRPF Claims
Mehrajuddin was killed after security forces fired at the car, who now claim he was allegedly trying to flee.
When a private car was signalled to halt at a security checkpoint on the outskirts of Srinagar on the morning of Wednesday, 13 May, Ghulam Hassan Shah, a policeman himself, was confident there was nothing to worry about.
Recalling what happened, Shah, who works as an assistant sub inspector in J&K Police, said he had called upon his nephew, Peer Mehrajuddin, 23, to drop him at his office at the Police Control Room in Srinagar because some “important work” had come up.
“When we reached near Check Kawoosa at around 10:15 am, an Army convoy was moving on the adjacent carriageway. A police constable signalled our car to stop and we obeyed. I told him that I was a policeman myself and I was running late for office,” he told The Quint over phone.
According to Shah, the police constable allowed him to proceed, “He signalled at a CRPF man on the other end of the checkpoint and before I could understand what was happening, a burst of bullets was fired by the CRPF man at us,” he said.
His nephew Mehrajuddin, who was driving the car, was hit, “He was bleeding profusely. I didn’t know what to do. It is a cold-blooded murder,” Shah said, breaking down while recalling the events.
But the sharp mind of a policeman didn’t allow Shah to lose the sight of what had just happened.
“I don’t know how to drive. My only concern was to save his life, so I shouted at passing vehicles for help. The security personnel then stopped a private car,” Shah recalls.
His nephew, who ran a Khidmat centre in Budgam district, was taken to SMHS hospital, some eight kilometres away, where the doctors pronounced him dead.
Claims and Counter-claims
According to the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and a statement issued by J&K Police, the car fled at “two naka points in suspicious condition.”
“The Naka party opened fire at the vehicle to thwart the attempt. The driver of the vehicle got injured in the incident and has been identified as Mehrajuddin Peer, son of Ghulam Nabi Peer, resident of Makhama Beerwah Budgam,” the police statement said.
The injured man was shifted to a hospital where doctors declared him dead. “Police has registered a case and started investigation into the matter,” the statement said.
According to Pankaj Singh, the CRPF’s spokesman in Srinagar, the car, a Maruti Wagon-R, jumped the barricade when it was asked to stop.
“We are on a high alert following the Handwara attack (in which three paramilitary troopers were killed at a checkpoint by militants who later escaped),” Singh said.
“Fearing sabotage, a CRPF jawan manning the checkpoint fired warning shots. The car was driving in the wrong direction (according to the division of the road) and that was even more alarming. When the car didn’t stop despite warning shots, the jawan fired at the car and the driver was hit on his left shoulder,” the CRPF spokesperson said in a statement.
However, the J&K Police statement doesn’t mention that the uncle-nephew duo was driving in the “wrong direction,” as claimed by the CRPF.
“If the car was going in the wrong direction, what is the basis of the CRPF claims that it jumped ‘two naka points’? If they fired at a moving car, why didn’t it suffer as much as a scratch,” the slain youngster’s uncle said.
“They have taken away the car. They are trumping up lies to cover up the cold-blooded murder of my nephew,” he added.
On Thursday evening, Shah and other family members waited in despondency to get possession of the body of Mehrajuddin which was later taken to their ancestral village for his last rites.
Shah had never imagined that one day, he may have to take away the bullet-riddled body of his nephew from his own office, the police control room in Srinagar, where he is presently posted.
An elder brother of the slain youngster also works in the J&K Police, according to his uncle, and his father is a middle-rung official in the Power Development Department of J&K. He is survived by three sisters as well.
Call for Probe
The killing of the youngster comes days after a civilian was shot, allegedly by security forces, during a violent demonstration in south Kashmir in the aftermath of the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo.
Cutting across the ideological spectrum, political parties in Kashmir have demanded an “expeditious” and “impartial probe” into the killing.
“Shooting a civilian dead cannot be how a democracy operates. Eagerness of few trigger-happy individuals to replicate Delhi Police model of destruction & violence in Budgam is detestable. An enquiry should be initiated & guilty taken to task,” the PDP tweeted.
Former chief minister Omar Abdullah also took to Twitter to say: “Very unfortunate. The circumstances surrounding this shooting need to be impartially investigated & findings made known. My condolences to the family of the deceased.”
“Official probes only act as a process of cover-up. The accused are never prosecuted. Then another killing happens, the previous case is forgotten and the vicious cycle goes on,” Khurram Parvez, a human rights defender in Kashmir, observed.
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