A few days after the custodial killing of 30-year-old school teacher on March 19, 2019, his friend Shahid Manzoor was slapped with PSA for joining militant ranks. Their friendship started from the barracks of Awantipora police station on August 19, 2018.
On Thursday evening, a 3:35 minute audio went viral on social networking sites in which Shahid, can be heard saying that he joined the militant ranks after he came to know about Rizwan’s killing.
In the audio he can be heard saying: “I’m a friend of Rizwan, Shahid Manzoor, resident of Awantipora in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district. All of you know about the incident which occurred in Awantipora in which my friend Rizwan Ahmad Pandit was killed after being tortured at the police station in Awantipora.”
While talking about the torture they faced in the police station, Shahid in the audio claimed that both of them (he and Rizwan) were called by the same police station, where they were brutally beaten up.
In the audio, he mentioned that the police also abused them using swear words about their mother and sister. They would beat them without any reason. They wanted them to become their informers or else they threatened to book them under the Public Safety Act (PSA).
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He also said that his reason for joining the armed resistance movement of Kashmir is directly related to the death of his friend and he left home on March 17, the date when Rizwan was detained. “I knew that whatever happened with Rizwan will happen with me too,” he can be heard saying in the audio.
In the audio, he further mentioned that conducting enquiry and punishing the killers of Rizwan is another way of dodging people from the reality. “Was any enquiry done on A and N’s rape and murder case (in which government forces were accused)?” he said in the audio.
Born in a middle-class family, Shahid was in the 6th standard when he lost his mother Suraya Akhtar due to cancer. He was brought up by his father Manzoor Ahmad Pinchoo, a contractor by profession, along with two siblings in Gewbra New Colony, 2 kms away from Rizwan’s home in Awantipora, Pulwama district.
Youngest among three siblings, 23-year-old Shahid was in 2nd year of his graduation in Government Degree College, Pulwama, when he was detained at the Awantipora police station on August 19, 2018. One of his cousins, on condition of anonymity told NewsClick that Shahid was forced to drop his studies as he was in detention and couldn’t appear in the exam.
Recalling their meeting, Rizwan brother, Mubashir Asad while speaking to NewsClick said, “For the first time, when I saw Rizwan and Shahid together in the police station, both of them had been beaten black and blue, and blood was oozing from Rizwan’s right ear.”
On September 8, 2018, both friends were slapped with Public Safety Act and were shifted to Kotbalwal jail in Jammu region. Both detainees became close friends during their time in the jail.
After spending five months in jail together, Rizwan was released on January 6 and Shahid on February 5. It took Rizwan a week to get back to work at the Elite Group of Tutors where he used to provide private coaching. He was famous in his locality for teaching Chemistry.
On March 11, Rizwan re-joined his school Sabir Abdullah Public School where he was posted as the principal. Just six days later, on the intervening night of March 17-18, his house was raided by the police officials of Awantipora. He was detained and electronic gadgets such as laptops, mobile phones and pen drives were taken by police. “They promised that they will release Rizwan after finishing the investigation but nothing as such happened,” said Mubashir. “We received his dead body with brutal torture marks everywhere,” he added.
On the same night, Shahid left his home due to the fear of being arrested and mental torture.
On March 19, when news of Rizwan’s killing spread in the area, Shahid’s elder brother Majid Manzoor Pinchoo, a 26-year-old driver was detained outside J&K, and is still being held at Bijbehara police station in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
“After my brother’s killing, his friend joined militancy. His reaction towards the killing of my brother who was his friend reveals that forces are pushing youth of Kashmir towards the militancy,” said Mubashir.
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