Syed Babar Qadri

Babar Qadri, the Kashmiri lawyer who was killed in Hawal on September 24, 2020, in Srinagar. Pic: Facebook

A young lawyer who joined the bar in 2018 was frequently visible on a particular TV Channel and, more so, on social media. A bitter critic of almost everybody, Babar Qadri, 41, was killed by two young men who barged into his home on September 24, 2020. He had survived two assaults, according to own statement on social media, prior to the one that actually killed him. He received two bullets – in head and chest, and died on spot, near the staircase he had used to see the two strangers in his lawn. The two persons had come to discuss some case and the lawyer had sent his brother, Zafar, to get them tea when they attacked him and left.

Reports appearing in media suggest that some suspicious people had come to his Hawal residence in July 2018. They wanted Babar but they found his brother Zafar in his car. The incident led to a police case, the outcome of which is not known. That incident took place within days after his name appeared on a blog that police believes was operated from outside India. The particular blog has been naming names for the last few years.

People offering funeral prayers (Nimaz-e-Jinaza) to Babar Qadri, the young lawyer who was assassinated by unknown gunmen on September 24, 2020, at Srinagar. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

Babar was of the three sons of Syed Mohammad Yasin Qadri who had migrated to Srinagar somewhere during the early nineties at the peak of militancy from Sheikhpora Tarhama, a Tangmarg village. Yasin was affiliated with Jamat-e-Islami. Post-migration, the family constructed a house in congested Hawal locality in main Srinagar city. One of his brothers is studying outside as his other brother, Zaffar is also a practising lawyer. He has two sisters.

Babar was married to the daughter of Dr Ghulam Qadir Wani of Bandipore who was assassinated in mysterious circumstances earlier. A resident of Arin village, Dr Wani was following basically from Jamaat – he was Secretary-General of Muslim United Front, and later spent some time with JKLF too. Babar is survived by his wife, a homemaker, and two daughters, the eldest is of around eight years.

Journalist Muzamil Jaleel drew a parallel between the kids of Dr Wani and the two daughters of his daughter. “When I looked at the picture of those two little girls whose father was brutally taken away, I remembered their grandfather. Dr Ghulam Qadir Wani was an exceptional man, a great leader. He too was taken away in similar circumstances,” Muzamil wrote on his Facebook. “The mother of these two little girls must have been little older than them when her father was silenced forever. I remember visiting Dr Wani’s home in Arin village in Bandipore next day” The family has decided to drive Babar’s body to their Tangmarg home for funeral and burial.

Babar has been a student activist at the University of Kashmir and keen to join politics. With some friends, he had set up a Lawyers Club that would appear in the cases of people arrested for security reasons including stone pelters and juveniles. He had visited Pakistan earlier too.  His Bar membership was under suspension – apparently, after he floated a political party, and that had created differences between him and the bar leadership.

For the last few years, Qadri was a permanent member of Arnob Goswami show on The Republic TV. Once, the anchor even asked him to leave his show, a clip that went viral post-assassination.  On the show, he would routinely be accused of being a “Pakistani agent”. Qadri, people who watched him on TV routinely said, would never spear anybody from the political class, regardless of the ideological divide. On social media, he would even name names.

What makes the assassination all the more intriguing was that he had written on social media that a campaign was going against him and it might lead to his death. He in fact had asked the police to register a case and investigate. Hours before his death, he talked in detail in a live video.

Kashmir Police Chief, Vijay Kumar told reporters that had Babar tagged Kashmir police they would have provided him security. (He had tagged Jammu police instead). However, Kumar said Babar’s own brother-in-law, a DySP in Jammu and Kashmir Police had suggested him to leave home for some days, a suggestion the young lawyer did not take seriously.

Police Chief Dilbagh Singh told reporters they are investigating the case.


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