January 2001 News

Airport attack - Jeep driver arrested dies in police custody

18 January 2001
The Indian Express

Srinagar: The driver of the Mahindra jeep of the State Forest Corporation used by the Lashkar militants in the attack on airport was found killed in police custody today. The police claimed their party was ambushed by militants while his family said he was tortured to death. Bilal Ahmad, a resident of the Rainawari locality in downtown Srinagar, had been picked up by the Special Operation group of Police, Budgam, soon after the recovery of the green Jeep near the 'drop gate' of the airport entrance on Tuesday. Along with him, the police had also picked up two forest officers suspecting their involvement in the attack. The body which was recovered from Ganderbal had torture marks all along andwas buried in the local graveyard, where around 4,000 peopleattended his funeral. The police claimed that the driver was killed whenmilitants ambushed their party which was heading to a hideout on theinstance of the arrested driver. 'Our party was heading towards a hideoutin Ganderbal to make recovery of arms and ammunition on his instance, whenmilitants opened fire. He was killed while two of our men were also injuredin the shoot out,' Deputy Inspector General of Police, Kashmir K Rajindratold The Indian Express. However, the family members of the deceased alleged he had been killedafter severe torture by the Budgam police who had arrested him forinvestigations. 'If he was involved with the Fidayeens, why would themilitants use his jeep and expose him?' a relative said on the conditionof anonymity. 'We are all scared of these SOG men, they can harm theentire family too,' he said.


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