Jammu and Kashmir Police on Friday announced the setting up of a Special Investigation team to probe the killing of advocate Babar Qadri (38) outside his residence in Hawal area of Srinagar on Thursday.
“I visited the crime scene. We have constituted an SIT headed by SP Hazratbal and including other officers and a legal expert. The SIT has been directed to solve the case at the earliest and ascertain which militant outfit is responsible,” Inspector General J&K Police (Kashmir Zone) Vijay Kumar said.
Meanwhile, at Babar’s family home in Sheikhpora off Tangmarg road, his father Mohammad Yaseen Qadri said he would not cooperate with any police probe. “I have lost my son. I will not cooperate with the police because I do not trust their investigations,” he said.
The father was at Babar’s home when the assailants arrived just after 6 pm on Thursday. “One was short and had a stubble and the other was tall, clean-shaven, with short hair. They were not wearing masks,” Yaseen Qadri told The Indian Express.
He said they entered through the gates and asked to see Babar regarding a case. “Our helper had them sit in chairs on the lawn, where clients often meet Babar. He came out to meet them and started reading the file they handed him, and then they began shooting at him,” he said.
“Covered in blood, he ran inside the house, and they kept shooting at him. He fell in the lobby, where his sister caught hold of him, riddled with four bullets,” Yaseen Qadri said.
He said that Babar’s younger brother Zaffar tried to run after the assailants, but he called out to him to get Babar to a hospital. “By the time we reached SKIMS, we had lost him,” he added.
Yaseen Qadri said he discouraged his son from appearing on television — Babar often took part in TV debates — “but he would always say that it was his right to express his point of view”.
His father pointed to a couple of episodes that had raised his concern for his eldest son. “In 2016, a senior member of the High Court Bar Association asked me to check Babar and bring him to the right path.” Babar’s membership to the J&K High Court Bar was suspended around 2016.
Babar had floated a lawyers’ collective termed Lawyer’s Club Kashmir in 2012. Fellow advocate and his friend, advocate Shafqat Nazir, said that it was not a parallel body to the bar and was “eventually reduced to a Facebook page”. Nazir also said there had been previous attempts on Babar’s life.
The second episode Yaseen Qadri pointed to was a TV television debate where, he said, a senior member of a political party said, “Babar, are you still alive?” Other members of Babar’s family also said they had warned him “not to speak on TV debates”.
Babar had initiated a political venture called the Justice Party, but “the idea faded after August 5, 2019”, after which he picked up habeas corpus and bail petitions.
Activist Ahsan Untoo, a former client of Babar, said, “A lot of cases Babar took up were pro bono. He went out of his way to help clients.”
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