For the family of Wamiq Farooq, a 12-year-old Kashmiri boy killed by a tear gas shell fired by police during a protest in 2010, the wait for justice has been too long.
But a day after the arrests of two police officers allegedly responsible for the student’s death, his family could finally see a glimmer of hope.
A Srinagar court Tuesday sent Assistant Sub-Inspector Abdul Khaliq Sofi and Constable Mohammad Akram to judicial custody until Thursday on charges of culpable homicide (not amounting to murder), more than 10 days after it issued warrants for the duo’s arrest.
The action came nearly six years after Farooq was killed on Jan. 31, 2010.
Wamiq was on his way to attend classes in the Rajouri Kadal area of downtown Srinagar, when he was hit on the head by a tear gas shell fired by police from a short distance, according to Firdousa Begum, 40, the slain boy’s mother.
“I have been fighting for justice for more than five years. Finally my stand has been vindicated,” his father, Farooq Ahmad Wani, 48, told BenarNews.
“I urge the court to hang the killers so that it acts as a deterrent against such criminals in police uniform. The police are tasked with protecting the lives of law-abiding citizens, and erring officials mustn’t be spared, lest people will lose their faith in the justice system,” said Wani, a street vendor.
According to the police, his son was hit by a stray shell fired to disperse a crowd protesting the arrests of youths on charges of disturbing law and order.
Farooq’s death sparked widespread protests across the Kashmir valley, leading to six months of unrest that claimed the lives of at least 120 civilians. A majority of those deaths occurred in Srinagar, according to local media reports.
In dispatching Sofi and Akram to judicial custody, magistrate B.A. Munshi said the accused were free to approach the court for bail when they would be produced before the principal sessions judge on Thursday.
“The accused persons in my opinion are involved in a heinous offense. Therefore, they cannot be released on bail at this stage,” Munshi said in his order on Tuesday.
Advocate Aijaz Ahmad Dar, who is representing Farooq’s family, told BenarNews that the two accused cops had evaded arrest for almost six years “citing ill health, among other pretexts.”
He added that even when they appeared before the court on Tuesday, their attorney presented a High Court-issued stay order against the execution of the arrest warrants served on his clients.
“I prayed before the magistrate not to grant them bail as they committed a heinous crime and had been evading arrest for more than five years,” Dar said.
Dar said the culpable homicide charge against the accused could later be “converted into a murder charge if the prosecution is able to provide clinching evidence against the pair.”
“In my opinion, (Farooq’s) case should pave the way for the reopening of several cases related to the killing of more than 100 civilians during the 2010 unrest,” he said.