Srinagar: Armed assailants shot dead the lawyer Syed Babar Qadri at his residence in Srinagar’s Hawal area Thursday evening. The two attackers had entered the 40-year-old Kashmiri lawyer’s home posing as clients before assassinating him.
According to IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar, Qadri was shot at four times from close range, which killed him instantly. The doctors at the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences said he was brought dead to the hospital. He had sustained bullet injuries near his eye and shoulder area.
“Both the attackers had their faces covered and were carrying files. They had come at about 6:20 PM for an advice and when Qadri came near them, they used pistols to fire at him indiscriminately. They also fired aerial shots when they escaped,” IGP Kumar said.
The police, who suspect that the attack was carried out by militants, have formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) led by SP Hazratbal to investigate the matter “on priority”. Qadri is survived by his wife, two daughters and his old parents. He was eldest of four siblings, including a sister.
His killing has elicited wide condemnation from the Valley as well as other parts of the country.
Funeral of Babar Qadri in Srinagar. | Image Credit: Kamran Yousuf
The lawyer’s take on civil rights and regional politics had earned him prominence and he regularly appeared on TV debates on Indian news channels. Qadri was, however, critical of both the state establishment and separatist leaders especially Syed Ali Geelani and would often post videos and commentary on his social media profile. Six hours before his death, he posted a half an hour long commentary on lawyers’ fraternity and criticised the president of High Court Bar Association Mian Abdul Qayoom alleging that he (Qayoom) worked at the behest of separatists.
Earlier on September 21, Qadri had said that his life was under threat due to what he referred to as a “wrong campaign” against him. “I urge the state Police administration to register FIR against this Shah Nazir who has spread wrong campaign that I work for agencies. This untrue statement can lead to threat to my life. @ZPHQJammu (sic),” his tweet said.
IGP Kumar said that a police officer, who is also the brother-in-law of the slain lawyer, had warned Qadri and suggested that he shift from his congested locality of Hawal to a more secure place. “There was a threat to his life but he did not agree to his brother-in-law’s suggestion of changing his residence,” the police officer said.
Also read: 3 Militants, Woman Killed During an Encounter in Srinagar
During his time at the University of Kashmir, where he earned his law degree, Qadri actively participated in student politics and even led anti-establishment protests inside the campus. In 2010, he gained prominence for fighting cases concerning juvenile justice.
Qadri was buried at his ancestral village of Sheikhpora in North Kashmir’s Baramulla district. His family had shifted from the rural area due to the persecution faced by the family for having ties with Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) which is now a banned organisation. His father had taken refuge in Srinagar city like scores of other Jamaat activists during late 1990s and early 2000s.
Incidentally, Qadri’s father-in-law Ghulam Qadir Wani, who has a PhD from Jawahar Lal Nehru University, was also assassinated by “unidentified gunmen” at North Kashmir’s Bandipora in year 1998. Wani was considered to be an influential figure in the separatist politics and believed to have played an important role in the foundation of Hurriyat Conference.