MORE THAN a dozen people were injured as police and paramilitary personnel shot pellets and teargas shells to control a restive crowd and stone-throwers as protests broke out in Srinagar on Saturday, hours after a 16-year-old boy succumbed to alleged poisoning and torture by the police. The family has alleged that the Class X student was tortured and force-fed poison. A police spokesperson said the boy had reportedly consumed poisonous substance on October 28, adding that a case has been registered and investigations are on.
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Qaisar Hameed Sofi, a resident of Shalimar area of Srinagar, had gone missing on October 27. He was found the following day in a drain near his house – frothing from his mouth, according to the police. He was admitted to Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) Hospital, where he was declared dead after eight days late on Friday evening. On Saturday morning, when the body was being taken for burial, mourners raised pro-azadi slogans in Eidgah area. The police said they fired teargas and pellets to disperse the crowd.
According to relatives, before his death, Qaisar had reportedly told family members that the police had detained him and forced him to consume poison in custody. “He spoke last to his mother. He said, ‘mouji b hai mourhas (mother, I was murdered)’. He then slipped into a coma and was moved to the ICU, where he succumbed,” Ayash, a cousin, claimed.
Blaming security forces for unnecessary action Saturday, Mohammad Ayash, Qaisar’s cousin, alleged, “The funeral could have been completed peacefully, but forces fired teargas shells and pellets at several places. They are deliberately inciting violence.” Twelve injured people were taken to Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital (SMHS). “All of them had pellet injuries above knees, mostly on the abdomen and back,” Deputy Medical Superintendent Dr Kanwarjeet Singh said. “Since there is a case of poisoning, we have taken the samples and sent them for forensic analysis,” SKIMS Medical Superintendent Amin Tabish said.