J&K Cop Lynched: What Really Happened? Eyewitnesses Tell The Quint

The Quint spoke to six eyewitnesses to corroborate the sequence of events that killed the 57-year-old father of two.

4 min read
57-year-old Mohammad Ayub Pandith was lynched to death inside a Nowhatta mosque on 23 June.

There is no single narrative to the brutal lynching of Jammu and Kashmir’s Deputy Superintendent of Police Mohammed Ayub Pandith inside a mosque near Srinagar on Friday.

Did Pandith fire his service revolver? Was he filming the anti-Mirwaiz protest outside the mosque? Was his murder pre-meditated? Why did bystanders not intervene? And why did everybody just go back to minding their business despite the blood in the street?

The Quint spoke to six eyewitnesses to corroborate the sequence of events that killed the 57-year-old father of two.

Eyewitness 1: “They Threw Him in a Street Corner, Like a Dead Dog”

At around 11:30 am, a commotion started outside the mosque on the main road. I was there with a friend. People started shouting saying ‘we caught a mukhbir (informer) who was taking photographs’. People didn’t really care. Then a man ran into the compound of the mosque. And a crowd of young men followed him inside. They caught hold of him and asked for his identity card. Some even climbed the fence to see who the mukhbir was. They were kicking and punching him. A group of young men surrounded him to save him. It went on for 20 minutes. By this time, I reached the second gate of the mosque and I heard gunshots.
J&K Cop Lynched: What Really Happened? Eyewitnesses Tell The Quint
People didn’t immediately realise that shots had been fired. Then two young boys – one shot in the thigh and the other in the stomach – were brought out. Then we went in. There was blood on the streets, on the stairs. The man who’d been killed, his body wasn’t there, neither was the gun. Some said there was another person, not the victim, who had fired the shots. But somehow, the people around did not react. We went back to the main gate and suddenly a huge group of young men emerged from the compound, dragging the body. I think he was already dead. They kept him on the road, shouted a few slogans, and threw him in a corner like a dead dog.

Eyewitness 2: “Those Who Fired the Shots Ran Away”

During the clash outside the main road of Jamia Masjid, people were being chased by police. Suddenly, the protesters started running towards the gate of Jamia Masjid where there was a huge gathering. Everyone was saying a CID (officer) had been caught. The suspect (officer) was dragged by the mob to the other side of the mosque compound from the main gate. Everyone was running across to get a glimpse of him. Suddenly we heard a firing sound from within the crowd and people started running away. 
J&K Cop Lynched: What Really Happened? Eyewitnesses Tell The Quint
After the firing, two persons were injured and sent away. One man had received a bullet injury on his leg and the other was a young boy. After this, the mob turned violent. At that time people did not know that he was Ayub Pandith. He was being thrashed by this mob and was already unconscious. For them, he was just a suspected policeman. I saw a man coming out of the crowd, his hands were soaked in blood. He told me that they were trying to save the policeman and the ones who fired at the crowd ran away. A few people said that the ones who fired the shots had come to kill Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.

Eyewitness 3: “They Dragged His Body Out and Left It on the Road”

J&K Cop Lynched: What Really Happened? Eyewitnesses Tell The Quint
Very few people came to protect the policeman. Everyone simply looked on as if this was a normal occurrence. They lynched him. Those standing nearby watched the DSP being thrashed while others were busy shopping. There were thousands of people watching as the DSP was dragged by a group of masked men on the ground. His body was brought out from the mosque compound and kept on the road where the clash between police and people had been going on. The body was laid out so that police could see it.

Eyewitness 4: “I Saw the Half-Naked Body Being Carried”

I was sitting near the closed shops with my friends. We heard a group of men chanting slogans as they were carrying the half-naked body of the DSP towards the crowd. Most of the people, including me and my friends, did not rush towards them. I felt there was something wrong. After the group took the body and flung it towards the police, I asked around about what had happened. They were saying that this CID (officer) was taking pictures of the devotees coming out from the mosque and was asked for his identity.

Eyewitness 5: “I Saw a Man Being Dragged Away”

I was near the mosque. There was a huge uproar and I rushed towards the source of this commotion. I saw a man had been encircled by a group of people. He was being dragged away. 

Eyewitness 6: “The DSP was Surrounded, He Looked Shocked”

When the DSP was caught, we all thought he was an outsider like most people were saying. When I spotted him in the middle of the crowd, he was mum and shocked.

Eyewitness 7: “A Large Group of People Charged at Him”

I was outside the mosque when I heard people shouting that a man with a gun was clicking photos. People started charging at him in a large group and he fired two shots at them. This angered more people and they began beating him.
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