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Babar Qadri Murder Case: NIA Court Orders 14-Day Judicial Custody for Prominent Kashmir Lawyer in Advocate’s Killing

Mian Abdul Qayoom Faces 14-Day Custody in Connection to High-Profile Advocate Murder

JAMMU, July 6: A NIA court has sent 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 2020 murder conspiracy of fellow advocate Babar Qadri. Qadri, a human rights advocate known for his frequent television appearances, was shot dead by terrorists at his residence in Srinagar’s Hawal area in September 2020. He had previously survived an assassination attempt in 2018.

Qayoom was arrested by the State Investigation Agency (SIA) in Srinagar on June 25 and was presented before the special judge, Jatinder Singh Jamwal, upon the expiration of his second remand. The court ordered his judicial custody until July 20. The court, designated for NIA cases, also handles cases for the SIA, a branch of the Jammu and Kashmir Police responsible for enforcing counter-terrorism laws.

Police have alleged that Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Saqib Manzoor was involved in Qadri’s murder. Manzoor and another militant commander were killed in a gunfight with police in Srinagar in 2022. Qayoom, a prominent figure in Kashmir associated with the All Party Hurriyat Conference, was arrested by the SIA after the agency took over the case in July last year. He was brought to Jammu immediately following his arrest and was produced before the fast-track court the next day. Initially, he was remanded to five-day police custody, 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, emphasizing the need for a fair and impartial trial where witnesses could testify without fear or hostility. The high court’s decision followed an application from the SIA, which cited the unwillingness of Srinagar lawyers to provide legal assistance due to the involvement of some influential lawyers in the city.

The Srinagar Police initially filed a charge sheet against six accused in the special UAPA court in Srinagar in 2021. In August 2022, police searched Qayoom’s residences and those of two other lawyers in Srinagar, seizing digital devices, bank statements, and documents. Last September, the SIA announced a reward of Rs 10 lakh for information leading to the resolution of Qadri’s murder.