Three policemen and an army officer have been arrested in Indian Kashmir as part of separate investigations into the death of a man in custody and an allegedly faked gunbattle, officials said Monday.
Last month, Nazim Rashid, a 28-year-old shopkeeper, died after being detained by counter-insurgency police in the northern town of Sopore in connection with an unsolved murder.
The cause of his death was not disclosed, but it resulted in a one-day strike across the Himalayan state and promises from chief minister Omar Abdullah of “swift and exemplary action”.
“Two policemen have been arrested and a few others are under the scanner,” a police officer told AFP on Monday on condition of anonymity, adding that the arrests were made at the weekend.
“Certain arrests have been effected. Investigations are on-going and if need be more arrests will take place,” Abdullah told NDTV.
He also said authorities had begun investigating a case in which a civilian was killed and then apparently passed off as senior commander of the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group.
Abdullah said a local soldier and a policeman were arrested Monday for making the security forces believe the civilian was a militant.
“Both have been charged under section 302 amounting to murder. We will ensure that the law follows its own course,” Abdullah said.
He said the two had confessed to misleading the security forces that led to the killing of a local Hindu resident.
Police on Sunday claimed to have killed Abu Usman, a “senior commander” of Lashkar in southern Poonch district during a 12-hour gunbattle.
Police have been arrested in the past for killing civilians during gunbattles and then claiming them as militants in an apparent bid to gain rewards and promotions.
In 2007, more than a dozen policemen were arrested for killing five civilians in separate gunbattles and passing them off as Pakistani militants.
Human rights group say thousands of Indian Kashmiri youths have died in fake gunbattles since the insurgency against New Delhi’s rule erupted in 1989.
Police had already registered a murder case over Rashid’s death and suspended three officers. Rashid’s father has said his son’s body bore torture marks.
Last year more than 110 people were killed when police and security forces fired at pro-independence demonstrations triggered by the death of a 17-year old youth who was hit by a police teargas shell.