Family of Kashmiri teenager alleges he committed suicide after being beaten by Indian army

September 22, 2019

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Security personnel stand guard during a lockdown in Srinagar on August 14. — AFP/File
Security personnel stand guard during a lockdown in Srinagar on August 14. — AFP/File

The family of a teenager in Pulwama in occupied Kashmir claimed that 15-year-old Yawar Ahmad Butt had committed suicide after he was allegedly beaten by soldiers in an Indian army camp, Indian publication The Wire reported on Sunday.

The army has refuted the allegations.

According to the publication, Bhat's family members said that the teenage boy was traumatised by the experience of being "detained and beaten" by the Indian army, after which he consumed poison on September 17.

The family said that Bhat was picked up from a camp in the Tahab village where a grenade attack had allegedly occurred, The Wire reported.

Following the Indian government's decision to strip occupied Kashmir of its autonomy, people have accused Indian security forces of carrying out beatings and tortures.

Read: Stories of torture following annexation by India emerge from occupied Kashmir

In August, BBC News heard from several villagers who said they were beaten with sticks and cables, and given electric shocks. A security lockdown and communications blackout imposed in the region has now entered its 49th day.

The Wire quoted the teenager's sister as saying: "[Yawar] was picked up by the forces from the same camp on Tuesday. They had also snatched his I-card before releasing him hours later."

"The same evening [Tuesday] he confided to me that 'I was beaten up by the army'. But he didn’t speak about the incident to our parents or any other family member," the publication reported, quoting Saima.

She alleged that her brother was "very upset" about the incident and consumed poison later that night.

Additionally, Bhat's cousin said that he was rushed to a hospital and doctors had performed a stomach wash but his condition had deteriorated.

According to The Wire, the deceased teenager was shifted to Srinagar's Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital where he died after two days.

The Indian Express added that Bhat's medical records from a Pulwama hospital had mentioned an "alleged" case of "rat poison".

The senior superintendent of police for Pulwama, Chandan Kohli, said that police had started inquest proceedings into the case under Section 174 of the Indian Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

"It is a suicide case," The Wire quoted him as saying, adding that police had taken up the matter with the army who denied the incident.

While The Wire quoted a district administration official, who wished to remain anonymous, saying that police intended to investigate the allegations that Bhat had been beaten by the army, an army spokesman termed them as "baseless".

"The army neither detained nor tortured him," he said.