SRINAGAR: A youth who was detained by the Jammu and Kashmir police from the Awantipora area of south Kashmir's Pulwama district, died last night with his family alleging that he was killed in police custody.

Police and family sources said the victim, Rizwan Asad, was picked up by the state police in connection with a militancy related case some days ago. Sources said he was initially held by the district police after which he was shifted to Srinagar.

Sources said Rizwan Asad died in police custody at Srinagar during the intervening night of March 18 and 19. A top police officer confirmed this death, saying that the matter is being investigated and the cops who were interrogating him are being questioned.

Sources said the victim, who was working as a teacher at a private school, died at Cargo camp of J&K Police’s Special Operations Group. According to some reports, he was being questioned by the National Investigation Agency. However, there was no confirmation from officials.

J&K Police chief Dilbagh Singh could not be reached for comments despite repeated attempts.

"A magisterial inquiry under 176 CrPc has been initiated to ascertain the cause of death after which any action can be taken," the officer, who is not authorised to speak with the media, said. The J&K police has also ordered a separate inquiry to probe the youth’s death.

Tensions are rising in Kashmir in the aftermath of the youth’s ‘killing’ with authorities suspending work at Islamic University in Awantipora to prevent and law and order problems. Rumours abound, in the absence of a proper official account.

The incident comes in the midst of a sweeping crackdown launched by the J&K Police against the separatists, Jamaat-e-Islami and their alleged sympathisers in Kashmir Valley in an attempt to restore a semblance of peace on the streets ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Last night, the J&K Police arrested a prominent religious cleric along with ten youth during nocturnal raids in the restive Pulwama district. Officials said Moulvi Amin, who led prayers at Khankhahi Mir Sahib mosque in Pulwama was arrested from his home while at least 10 youth were held from Drabgam village of the same district.

Since the union home ministry banned the Jamaat, over 300 leaders and activists of the socio-religious group, leader and activist of Hurriyat and suspected overground workers of militants have been arrested by police.

The situation remains tense in Kashmir with a civilian shot dead by unknown gunmen last evening in Tral area of Pulwama district, in the fourth such murder in the past five days in south Kashmir.

Officials said the slain man, identified as Mohsin Ahmad Wani, son of Ghulam Ahmad Wani, a resident of Reshipora area in Tral, was shot outside his house in Reshipora at about 7:20 PM. He succumbed on way to the hospital.