Advocate Babar Qadri Murder: Ex-J&K HCBA President Sends to Judicial Custody

Advocate Murder Case

NIA special court on Saturday remanded Mian Abdul Qayoom, the former president of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association’s Srinagar wing, to 14-day judicial custody for his alleged involvement in the conspiracy to murder a fellow advocate in 2020.

Advocate Babar Qadri, a human rights expert known for his television debates, was fatally shot by terrorists at his residence in the Hawal area of Srinagar in September 2020. He had narrowly survived an assassination attempt in 2018.

Abdul Qayoom, who was arrested by the State Investigation Agency (SIA) in Srinagar on June 25, was presented before the court of Special Judge Jatinder Singh Jamwal at the end of his second remand. The court has ordered him to remain in judicial custody until July 20, officials reported.

Courts designated to hear cases of the anti-terror agency NIA also handle cases from the SIA, a branch of the Jammu and Kashmir Police responsible for enforcing counter-terrorism laws in the Union Territory.

Police claimed that a Lashkar-e-Taiba commander, Saqib Manzoor, was involved in Qadri’s killing. Manzoor and another militant commander were killed in a gunfight with police in Srinagar in 2022.

Qayoom, 76, a prominent figure in Kashmir associated with the All Party Hurriyat Conference, was arrested by the SIA after it took over the case in July last year. He was brought to Jammu by the SIA immediately after his arrest on June 25 and was produced before the presiding officer of the fast-track court the following day. The court initially sent him to a five-day police remand, which was later extended by six days by the special court.

In January, the Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court transferred the case to a Jammu court from Srinagar, stating that “for a fair and impartial trial of a criminal case, it is imperative that the witnesses are in a position to depose in an atmosphere, which is free and not hostile.” This order followed an application by the SIA, which cited a lack of legal assistance from Srinagar lawyers due to the involvement of some “influential” lawyers based in the city.

The Srinagar Police first filed a charge-sheet in the case against six accused in the special UAPA court in Srinagar in 2021. In August 2022, police conducted searches at Qayoom’s residence and those of two other lawyers in Srinagar, seizing digital devices, bank statements, and documents as part of their investigation.

Last September, the SIA announced a reward of Rs 10 lakh for any information leading to the resolution of Qadri’s killing.

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About the Author: Nunnem Gangte