Friday, June 14, 2024

Kashmiri man allegedly dies in Police custody; family demands probe

A civilian has allegedly died in police custody in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, sparking outrage and calls for justice from his family.

Imtiaz Ahmed Pala, a 30-year-old electrician from Lidermund Bra-Vandana in Pulwama, was reportedly detained by police under suspicion of narcotics violations. He leaves behind a 28-year-old wife and three young children. According to his relatives, Pala was “tortured and killed” while in custody. “He was innocent, and we want justice,” said his relative, Shameem Ahmad.

However, the police thoroughly denied these allegations, stating that Pala developed severe health issues while detained and was declared dead upon arrival at a local hospital. “Imtiaz Ahmed Pala, son of Gul Mohammed Pala a resident of Lidermund Bra- Vandana, who was facing charges under FIR 42/2024 for violations of Section 8, 22 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, was reported to have developed severe health complications during his detention at the Litter Police Station.”

Attempts to reach the Pulwama and Srinagar Police Control Rooms for comments were unsuccessful. However, the police officer insisted that Pala’s condition deteriorated rapidly, leading to his death, and that a legal investigation into the circumstances is underway.

Pala’s family disputes the police account, calling for an impartial and thorough investigation. “He wouldn’t even smoke a cigarette, let alone do drugs. He was picked up during a cordon and interrogated in a nearby factory,” Shameem said.

In a distressing turn, the family was given Pala’s body for last rites at 2 am, but, as per Pala’s relative, only after showing pictures of a pre-dug grave to the police. “They made us dig the grave beforehand and send them pictures. Only then did they release the body,” another relative recounted.

The police assured that they would carry out an impartial investigation. “We are committed to uncovering the truth. All necessary actions will be taken based on the findings of the investigation.”

Today, in response to the family’s allegations, a magisterial inquiry has been initiated to determine the circumstances surrounding Pala’s death.

Gafira Qadir
Gafira Qadir
Gafira Qadir is a journalist based in Kashmir, covering human rights, gender, and education.
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