Sopore: May 7 started out as just another day for 26-year-old Danish Khazir Bhat from North Kashmir’s Sopore town. He was supervising the construction of a two-storied shopping complex on Sopore bypass, barely a kilometre from his home.
Around 1.45 in the afternoon, Bhat’s family members say, he was approached by a group of Army soldiers from a local camp.
“They asked him to fix a closed-circuit television camera on an electric pole,” said Khazir Mohammad Bhat, Danish Bhat’s father, quoting several eyewitnesses to the exchange on that day.
His son, Bhat says, refused.
“My son was not an electrician,” said Bhat, a businessman. “Sometimes he would fix appliances at home but he was not trained nor did he have any expertise in doing an electric lineman’s work.”
In response, the eyewitnesses told Khazir Bhat, the soldiers took away his mobile phones and the keys to his car. “He was forced to climb an electric pole and install a camera by the Army,” Bhat said. “While he was climbing down the pole, his elbow touched a live electric wire and he was electrocuted.”
Bhat continued: “The soldiers didn’t attempt to bring him down. Some local residents kicked the ladder on which Danish was standing and his burning body fell down.”
The soldiers, Bhat alleged, fled. “It was the local residents near the spot who took my son to the hospital,” he said.
At the sub-district hospital in Sopore, there was no oxygen supply available, Bhat’s family alleged. He was taken to a trauma centre, 21 km away, and from there to Srinagar’s Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences in a critical care ambulance. Eleven days later, Bhat succumbed to his injuries. The lack of oxygen in the initial hours proved critical, doctors at the Srinagar hospital later informed his family.
On the day of the incident, the Sopore police lodged a first information report against the 22 Rashtriya Rifles unit of the Army in the incident. As per the FIR, a copy of which Scroll has reviewed, the police have invoked Section 336 (involved in acts endangering the life or personal safety of others) and Section 337 (causing hurt by acts endangering life or personal safety of others) of the Indian Penal Code.
The report cited the family’s allegations that Danish Bhat was asked by the Army’s 22 Rashtriya Rifles unit to install a CCTV camera on the Sopore bypass.
“Murder charges have not been invoked in the FIR as there is no intention or conspiracy to kill the victim,” a police official in Sopore, who did not wish to be identified, told medial. “It’s an unfortunate incident.”
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