Srinagar: A 50-year-old man who allegedly consumed poison on being called by police for questioning in connection with last week’s terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch died on Thursday. Mukhtar Hussain Shah, a farmer from Poonch’s Nar village, died by suicide days after being summoned by security agencies for questioning in the Bhata Durian terror attack case, as per his family. While the inquiry order says that the victim consumed poison at his home on Tuesday, April 25, the family dismissed the claim as a “white lie.” Quoting Rafaqat, Mukhtar’s brother, The Wire reported, “We took him to a hospital in Mendhar, and doctors referred us to the Rajouri district hospital on the same day where he passed away on Thursday, April 27 at 12:20 am. I don’t know why they have written these lies.”
Mukhtar left behind a video on his phone where he can be seen speaking incoherently and breaking down multiple times. In the video, Mukhtar alleged that he, his family, and the neighbours were subjected to torture in the aftermath of the Poonch attack. Mukhtar held a small polythene bag containing a bottle of insecticide and claimed that he was taking his life due to the torture faced by his family and neighbours. He also stated that no one was listening to him even though he was telling the truth.
Mukhtar expressed regret over the death of five army soldiers and rejected having any links with militants. He claimed to have worked with the police and the army last year during an encounter in Poonch before he allegedly took his life.
Quoting sources at Rajouri district hospital, where Mukhtar passed away on April 27, The Wire reported that he allegedly consumed some poisonous substance, which is suspected to have caused his death. ‘The exact cause of his death will be known once the post-mortem proceedings are completed,’ the source added. Rafaqat alleged that Mukhtar had ‘bruises’ and ‘black marks’ on his back and thighs’, suggesting that he was tortured in custody. ‘If he has committed any wrong, let the investigators reveal the facts publicly. Why are they trying to hide the truth?’ he said.
The J&K administration has appointed Tahir Mustafa Malik, Additional Deputy Commissioner, Poonch, to conduct an ‘in-depth magisterial inquiry into the incident and circumstances (that) led to the death’ of Mukhtar.”
As news of Mukhtar’s death spread, a pall of gloom descended on the village. Accompanied by neighbours and relatives, Mukhtar’s family, which comprises elderly parents, five brothers, their wives, and children, blocked the Jammu-Poonch national highway between Bhimber Gali and Bhata Durian. The protesters demanded an impartial inquiry into the circumstances that led to Mukhtar’s death, following which the magisterial probe was ordered. During the protest, they were shouting anti-police, anti-administration, pro-army, and pro-India slogans, The Wire reported.