Rizwan Asad Pandit, a resident of Awantipora, who died in police custody came on the radar of security agencies following the Fidayeen attack on CRPF Training Centre in Lehthpora on 31 December 2017. Two local Fidayeen militants from militant outfit Jaish-e-Muhammad and five CRPF personnel were killed in that attack.
Since that attack, Rizwan was arrested, interrogated and released from time to time. Security agencies believed he was a militant sympathizer and an OGW of Jaish-e-Muhammad militant outfit. Rizwan was an MSc, a school Principal and a former guest lecturer at Islamic University of Science and Technology. As the news about his death spread, authorities closed the University to stop possible protests.
Thousands of people visited his residence to express sympathies with the family at Awantipora that witnessed violent clashes and shutdown on Tuesday.
Sources told news agency CNS that his name figured among the list of suspects when National Investigating Agency (NIA) started probe into deadly suicide attack in Lethpora that left over 40 troopers’ dead. A day before his death Rizwan according to his family was picked up by Forces while local police informed them he is lodged in Cargo for questioning and they can’t do anything in the matter.
“Rizwan was a free man from past 2 months. He was busy in his daily routine work when a day before his death a police team cordoned off our house and detained him. Police advised us not to communicate with anyone about this arrest as he will be released after questioning. Later, they informed us that Rizwan is in the custody of Special Operation Group at Cargo Srinagar and today news of his custodial death horrified us,” said Zulqarnain, the brother of the deceased.
Rizwan had been shifted to Kot Balwal Jail Jammu under Public Safety Act. “The court quashed his PSA yet he was kept in a police station for 15 days without any FIR. We don’t know what prompted the killers to kill him in this way,” he added.