kashmircalls.info Kashmir | The Burning Paradise

Title: Kashmir | The Burning Paradise
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Kashmir | The Burning Paradise skip to main | skip to sidebar Home History Martyrs 2010 Videos Account Of Massacres UN Resolutions FB PAGE LIVE TRAFFIC Feedjit Live Blog Stats BLOGS Follow this blog Sunday, 24 July 2016 Scenes From a Funeral 12:15 The Kashmir You Need To Know No comments The July 8 death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani in an encounter with security forces has been the trigger for arguably the biggest upsurge in popular anger the Kashmir Valley has seen since 2010. Shams Irfan, a reporter for Kashmir Life, was in Tral near Wani’s village on the day of his death. His revealing, first-person account of the way people around him reacted to the news provides a glimpse into an emotional dynamic that people in the rest of India seem unaware of. Burhan Wani’s body carried by mourners. Credit: Syed Shahriyar Tral (Jammu & Kashmir): On July 8, I was in Shikargah, a meadow within a pine forest on the edge of Tral, a town of 17,000 people in south Kashmir. The meadow and the forest, which were a no-go zone because of the conflict since the early 1990s, were opened to the public recently. A new stone gate was erected. On weekends and holidays, families and young men from nearby villages and towns had begun trickling to the area. The forests of Shikargah, despite the presence of an army garrison at its entrance, came to be associated with the legend of Burhan Muzaffar Wani, who joined the Hizbul Mujahideen at 15 and became the most famous militant commander in Kashmir in the past few years. As the sun set in the distance, the Eid revellers at Shikargah began to pack and leave. A silence fell over the meadow. I could hear the wind rustle through pine leaves and wild berries. Tral and its nearby villages, which are surrounded by half a dozen garrisons, have stayed indoors after sunset since the onset of militancy in 1990. I was walking down the steep road from Shikargah to Tral with a few friends when a text message alerted me to an encounter in Bamdoora village in Anantnag district, some 40 kilometres further south. I alerted my newspaper in Srinagar and told a colleague to keep a tab on the news from Bamdoora, a village I had never heard of before. It was 6 pm. I drove around Tral with the friends I was staying with. It was now 8 pm, I was drinking tea with my friends in their house. We were on our Eid holiday; our conversations would drift in numerous directions but always circle back to the story of Burhan and his associates. I called my office to inform my colleagues that I was staying back in Tral and to check about the encounter in Bamdoora. “One militant named Sartaj is dead,” my online editor said. “Two more have been killed, but not identified yet.” Two minutes later he called back. He was nervous. “Burhan is dead! Please confirm.” A little later, I got confirmation from the street. Around 50 young boys followed by older men, women and children, singing elegies for Burhan, were marching towards his home in Sharifabad, about two kilometres away. As their voices faded, a grim silence blanketed the street. And night fell. Minutes later, the loudspeakers of local mosques resounded with cries throughout Tral: Burhan tum zinda ho (Burhan, you live!) My journalistic instincts kicked in; I decided to follow the mourners. Making my way past wailing women and hundreds of protestors on motorcycles, as well as a number of quickly erected blockades outside military installations and garrisons, I reached the town square at Tral where about 5,000 people had gathered. One could see that with every passing minute, their patience was running out, as was space in the square. For the next two hours, people continued to pour in from Srinagar in the north and Anantnag in the south. Since there had been no official announcement to the effect, people were praying and hoping that the news about Burhan having been killed was not correct. Then home minister Rajnath Singh officially declared Burhan’s killing in the encounter. I started walking towards Burhan’s home. On a street corner near his home, women began singing traditional Kashmiri marriage songs reserved for the arrival of a bridegroom. “He is coming home after six years,” said one woman, who remembered him as a shy, bookish boy. “I have kept heena for him. I will put it on his hands. He is our hero,” said another woman. On the other end of town, announcements were made from public address systems, requesting townsfolk to arrange food for visitors waiting for Burhan’s body. As a journalist, one thinks one has seen every possible situation. But one had not seen anything like this before. Every home offered food but the people gathered there refused to eat. “We are not here for food,” a group of youngsters from Srinagar said. “We are here to see our brother’s face.” A local young man, who was wearing a mask, circled the square shouting in a husky voice, “Brothers, if you feel like eating, please follow me!” He waited for almost 15 minutes. Nobody followed him. There was just a sea of angry faces that refused to move. At 10:30 pm, the downpour began; the dark night sky lit up with lightning, followed by thunderclaps. The pounding of the rain over tin roofs, the minarets of the mosque, and the recently paved roads accentuated the atmosphere of gloom. There was just one question on everybody’s lips: When is Burhan coming home? Four hours later, at 2.30 am, they brought his body. By next morning, tens of thousands of mourners from towns and villages across Kashmir had gathered in Tral. They came in trucks, buses, tractor trolleys, cars; they came on motorcycles, scooters, and cycles; and they came on foot. They came from Baramulla and Sopore in northern Kashmir; they came from Srinagar in central Kashmir; they came from Anantnag and Pulwama in south Kashmir; they came from across the Pir Panjals, from Poonch and Rajouri in Jammu. A local medic busy stitching a 16-year-old boy. Credit: Shams Irfan I decided to follow a group of mourners. I made my way through apple orchards, brand new courtyards, vegetable gardens, leaping over boundary walls so as to avoid the main road, which is within sight of a major garrison housing the army, CRPF, STF, and the Tral police station. After half an hour, I found myself near the garrison. There, a group of teenage boys were attending to those injured in stone-pelting battles with the troops. A local druggist, trying hard to keep an expressionless face, his hands soaked in blood and mud, was busy stitching a 16-year-old boy’s head – the 16th injured person he had tended to since morning. A small section of road had become the new LoC. The boys were throwing stones at the troops who, alleged a local, had marked Burhan’s death by setting off firecrackers. The troops were retaliating with stones, teargas shells, and occasional aerial firing. A makeshift medical camp had been set up by the local population. There was one injured person every 15 minutes. A girl in her early 20s supplied fresh lemon juice mixed with Tang to the boys in front throwing stones about 300 meters away. Her grandmother was busy refilling the empty bottles that were brought back. In 15 minutes, I saw her make two dashes to the front. Burhan’s funeral was scheduled to be held at 9.30 am in the four-and-a-half acre eidgah, a ground used for Eid prayers. The crowd of mourners was so dense and so immense that it took me an hour to walk a few kilometres. The last 500 metres, I didn’t even have to walk. The crowd carried me into the eidgah, which was packed tight, bursting beyond its capacity. The eidgah, which normally accommodates about 50,000 people at one time, was packed to the brim, and after each round of funeral prayers people kept leaving and new mourners filled it again. By the end of the day, about 200,000 people would have joined the multiple rounds. I decided to move further ahead. It took me another 30 minutes to wade through the half way mark from where I could see what was going on. From that vantage point, my phone could catch Burhan’s face. His body was placed on a makeshift stage built on a tractor trolley, surrounded by around 50 volunteers – their faces covered – who were trying to bring a semblance of order to the crowd milling for a glimpse of Burhan. Huge crowds waited outside the eidgah ground. After the first funeral prayer at 9.30 am, a large part of the crowd left and the people waiting outside surged inside. To allow each new batch to pray, funeral prayers were held back to back around 40 times. At one point, a huge wave of people starting from where Burhan’s body was placed headed towards one of the exit points. A young man in a green t-shirt was leading the crowd. I took out my phone to take a photograph but my hand was pushed down by somebody. The young man had moved ahead. The person who was still holding my hand told me sternly, “That is Sabzaar Ahmad. We don’t want this video to land in the lap of the police.” Sabzaar Ahmad, 25, is one of the militants in Burhan’s group. He too picked up arms in 2015 after Burhan’s elder brother, Khalid Muzaffar Wani, was killed by the security forces in the Kamla forests of Tral. I saw a large group of boys following Ahmad as he was being led out, some trying to touch his hands, some trying to hug him. Some got to shake his hand and some women managed to kiss his forehead before he was whisked away. Half an hour later, I saw a bigger wave of people headed in my direction. Leading them was a tall young boy, whose face was partially covered in a bandana. I was told he was Zakir, a boy from a neighbouring village who was studying civil engineering at a college in Chandigarh before he joined Burhan in 2015. Hundreds of hands reached out for Zakir. Exhausted by the waves of thousands of people still arriving at eidghah, I began looking for a “quiet” place to sit for a while. Umar, my host who was holding my hand tightly, inched through the crowds, past a group of boys singing songs in praise of Burhan, and stopped near the other end of the eidgah. I climbed onto on a raised platform of a graveyard shaded by Chinar trees. This was the spot where many militants from Tral who had been killed since 1990 were buried. From my vantage point, I could see around 20 boys, their faces covered, standing in a circle around Burhan’s freshly dug grave. Burhan’s father, Muzaffar Ahmad Wani, a school principal was sitting by his son’s grave, lost in his thoughts and silently staring at the crowd in the distance. He didn’t utter a word. Nobody did. Suddenly, he turned around and looked for a long moment at the resting place of his older son Khalid, who lay one grave apart from Burhan’s. Meanwhile, I learnt that Burhan’s body had been taken home for one last time – final homecoming, said someone. By then, the mobile network had already been blocked. I walked to my friend’s house to call my office from a landline. On the way back, I saw hundreds of roadside kitchens preparing food for the people who had come to mourn Burhan. Women, children and young girls stood outside their homes, offering water and tea to visitors. The girl whom I had seen in the morning near the stone pelting ‘frontline’, was still running back carrying half-a-dozen empty bottles in her hands. The local medic I had met was still at work where I had last seen him. He was going home to take a shower and change his bloodied clothes. “I must have dressed over 50 injured boys so far,” he said. When I returned to the eidgah after dictating my story over the phone, Burhan had been buried. But the crowds still kept coming. A young boy entering the eidgah from its front gate, caught my attention. His face covered by a motorcycle helmet, he was clad in a light blue kurta pajama and had slippers on his feet. He walked towards the graveyard but did not take off his helmet. Curious, I edged closer to him. He wore a white mask beneath the helmet. Stray locks of curly hair spilled out of the helmet. He went straight to Burhan’s grave and offered prayers, all the while keeping his helmet on. I looked closer and saw he was crying. He turned around, looked at us, picked up a handful of soil from the grave, and walked out towards his motorcycle. A group of suspicious boys surrounded him. Then he took off his helmet and revealed his identity – it was Zakir again. He was back after changing his clothes, probably to avoid recognition. One man he spoke to before riding off told me that he had come to salute his commander. He was carrying a pistol for the purpose. But as it was crowed near the grave, he didn’t open fire and left. I stuck around wanting to see what would happen next. A little later, a few others from Burhan’s 12 arrived. They fired their guns in the air to salute their commander and then melted away. Zohra, who had 12 pellets in her legs, at SMHS hospital Srinagar. Credit: Shams Irfan In the next few days, the Valley erupted in protests. Stones, pellets, and bullets flew in all directions. In two weeks, 45 protesters and one policeman were killed and around 3000 people injured. More than 100 individuals suffered debilitating pellet injuries to their eyes. One of the youngest victims of the rubber pellets was 5-year-old Zohra. I met her in Srinagar’s Shri Maharaj Hari Singh hospital. Zohra, who had 12 pellets in her legs, had only one thing to tell me. “Main Burhan bhai ko bolungi policewalo ne mujhe mara (I will tell Burhan that the policemen have beaten me).’ Leaving the hospital, I began my slow trudge towards office. Shams Irfan is a Srinagar based Journalist. He works with Kashmir Life. Previously published on The Wire ( http://thewire.in/53549/the-funeral/# ) on 24/07/2016 Read More Monday, 9 November 2015 "Bullet shatters Gowhar’s dream to help his father" 03:08 The Kashmir You Need To Know No comments A narrow lane leading to the residence of Gowhar Nazir Dar—who was killed when Central Reserve Police Force men fired at protesters yesterday—looks like an alley enveloped in thick fog. The smoke emanating from teargas shells, lobbed by police and paramilitary forces on mourners, is giving tough time to people walking in the street at Mustafabad in HMT area on Srinagar outskirts. All mourners visiting the bereaved family cough or sneeze as they enter Gowhar’s residence. Some of the teargas shells have landed inside the tent where women are mourning the youth’s death. Gowhar, 22, was killed when Central Reserve Police Force men fired at protesters at Zainakote HMT on Saturday—the day Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Srinagar. “They (cops) snatched everything from us and yet they are not satisfied. They have no mercy on mourners. Look how ruthless they are,” said an elderly person, sitting outside the house of slain Gowhar, as he points towards police and paramilitary forces firing teargas shells from the entrance of the lane. Sitting in a corner of the tent, Gowhar’s mother Shameema is dumbstruck. She is not able to utter a word. She falls unconscious as she begins to cry. “They snatched my world,” she said, and instantly fell unconscious. As women around try to console her, Gowhar’s two younger sisters start crying aloud, making everyone inside the tent weep. Gowhar, according to his relatives, had a dream to help his father who runs a small workshop at HMT. “Gowhar recently told his father that he wanted to go outside J&K for a job. He wanted to help his father,” said Inayatullah Dar, the slain youth’s cousin. He said Gowhar yesterday went to buy milk on a scooty. “On his return, he saw a man lying on road. He stopped his scooty to see what had happened and within no time, he was shot in his head,” he said. “It wasn’t a teargas shell, but a bullet fired by CRPF men.” Many youth, who had assembled at Gowhar’s residence, said when the tragedy occurred, there was no stone pelting going on in the area that time. “Things had settled down. The CRPF men, however, went berserk and started beating up people ruthlessly,” they said. Gowhar, according to locals, was a very gentle boy. “He was fond of going to gym and would often ask us to accompany him,” his friends told Greater Kashmir. “He was very intelligent. Sometimes he would say he wanted to take his entire family outside J&K for a tour.” Gowhar, they said, was fond of wearing good clothes. “We used to call him GD. He has also a Facebook account by the name of GD Gowhar,” one of his friends said. Gowhar’s father Nazir Ahmed Dar is in a shock. He is lost in the memories of his son. Dar, his relatives said, had recently paid Rs 30000 as last semester fee to his son who studied at Sir Syed Memorial College (SSM). A teacher at the SSM said Gowhar was a student of Computer Science department. “He was a very bright and talented student. He would give a lot of respect to his teachers,” he said. “We lost a very intelligent student. He would always be attentive during his classes and often go deeper into things.” On his Facebook wall, he has mentioned his date of birth as February 8, 1993. He had updated his FB page on August 9 by posting the date of death anniversary of Fida Nabi, a youth from his area who was killed during the summer agitation of 2010. Previously published on GreaterKashmir on 8th Nov 2015 http://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/kashmir/-bullet-shatters-gowhar-s-dream-to-help-his-father/201101.html Read More Monday, 14 September 2015 Photo Essay: Kashmir’s Story Of Violations And Injustice 15:51 The Kashmir You Need To Know No comments Kashmir’s Story Of Violations And Injustice By ZACHARIE RABEHI Injustice in Kashmir SRINAGAR: Kashmiris have been agitating for the withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, as a draconian law that gives the Army the impunity to cross the barrier of laws and conventions into violations of human rights. The Army has been clear, as have been successive governments in New Delhi, that it will not agree to ‘cleanse’ Jammu and Kashmir of terrorism until and unless the soldiers are ‘protected’ by AFSPA. In the midst of this debate weighed heavily on the side of the Indian Army, the Kashmiris have suffered. This has been acknowledged by fact finding reports, by political leaders and chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir, by at least 14 political parties in different parts of India that have now officially demanded the revocation of AFSPA but to no avail. Well known French photographer ZACHARIE RABEHI who has recorded his travels across the world with amazing photographs, has captured the human rights violations in the Valley with these photographs and testimonies from the victims. The Citizen, as part of its commitment to the truth as it is brings you this amazing photo essay: (Military trucks on the highway between Jammu and Kashmir). According to the South Asian Terrorism portal, over 50,000 people have died in the conflict in Kashmir since 1988. Unofficial figures place the casualties at multiples of the above number. Further, the impunity of the security apparatus has contributed to the enforced and involuntary disappearance of over 8000 persons and the disclosure of over 6000 unknown and unmarked mass graves. The figures, in all probability a major underestimation, reflect on the scale of the vast human rights tragedy that has plagued Kashmir. (Mass grave, Baramulla District). The official account, related by the Indian and Jammu and Kashmir administration and security apparatus, states that the dead buried in the unmarked graves are unequivocally “foreign militants/terrorists.” The perception in Kashmir is different. Hundreds and thousands of people have lost a loved one -- a brother, a son, a father, a husband, with the latter leading to the prevalence of “half widows,” women whose husbands are missing but not confirmed dead. Human rights organisations have repeatedly criticised the culture of forced disappearances in Kashmir, maintaining that a majority of those killed were targeted in “fake encounters” -- a term used to refer to the police or armed forces killing suspects when they are either in custody or are unarmed, and then claiming to have shot them in self-defence. Stories of disappearances, encounters, death and violence characterises every day life in Kashmir. Here are some personal accounts from Kashmir. Name withheld on request, Pattan. “My brother Adil was 13yrs old. He had gone to the neighbouring village to see a pro-freedom demonstration when Indian forces opened fire to break the peaceful protest. Later my mother received a phone call from the hospital informing her that he was wounded. A few moment later we received another phone call, this time to tell us that he had been killed. The doctors said that my brother was dragged from the bed and shot twice in the neck and back by the military inside the hospital.” Traik Ahmed Ganaia, 42 years old, Palhalan “Early one morning 2 armed men entered my house. They asked for food and sat there all day. They were militants. In the darkness of the evening they left. My family was stressed. The next morning in the first light, someone knocked on the door. My elder brother answered the knock; was the army and police. They asked us where were the militants. We told them what had happened and gave their description. They took me and my brother to the interrogation centre. There they put me naked in front of my brother and beat me with bamboo sticks on the legs. My brother begged the police officer to not beat me on the head because I was suffering from neurological problems. That's when they started to beat me on the ears, clapping their hands like a musical instrument. I was unconscious after an hour. The next day I woke up in the police hospital. I had head pain. Both my ears were swollen and my legs double their size. I was put under observation and suffered from internal bleeding. Since then I cannot hear anymore from my left ear.” Mansoor Ahmed Naikoo, 55 years old, Pattan. “One day in 1990, the army came and asked all the men of the village to gather at the school. One major of the army asked me my name and brought me to a room where four soldiers were waiting. They removed my clothes, they tied my arms with ropes. They then tied a cloth on my penis and set fire to it. They then inserted a wooden rod in my anus. For an hour they repeatedly asked me ‘where were the weapons?’ People outside the room started to protest at the school against my detention. That is when they took me to my own house to repeat the same treatment. They forced me to drink around 5 litres of dirty water while sodomising me with the rod. They questioned me again and I repeated that I was a shopkeeper and that I had never held a weapon in my life. They took me to the next house and used an electricity wire to shock me all over my body. When we left the first house I saw that a young-man that they were questioning had died there. After throwing me on the floor one soldier stepped on my neck with his shoe and asked me to show him where the weapons were or he will suffocate me. I could not breath or talk anymore and signalled to him with my foot. He released my neck so I could speak and repeat that I had nothing to do with the militants. One soldier took his helmet and started beating me with it on the chest. Another soldier asked him to stop the interrogation because I was nearly dying. One officer came to the room, they told him that they didn't find anything so they took me back to the school. The beating and torture lasted around 9 hours. At the school they were at least ten boys in handcuffs. As I couldn't stand anymore, the soldiers left me lying there on the floor. A few young guys helped me back home. There was a curfew that night so I couldn't get any medical treatment. My rectum was bleeding all night. In the morning my relatives came to my house and took me to the hospital. The soldiers tried to stop us but my neighbours and relatives protested and I finally could make it to a hospital in Srinagar. They kept me 40 days under treatment. I underwent major surgeries because my colon was ripped. After one month of being released from hospital, the infection came back. They operated on me again to remove a part of my colon. For 22 years my stool came out of a hole in my stomach.” Nayeen Muhammed, 29 years old, Pattan. “Before the celebration of Eid, I stepped out of the house to buy groceries. That is when an army patrol saw me. I felt a burn in my back and fell on the floor. I was shot. Then the patrol rushed to me and started beating me while I was lying on the floor. When they thought I was dead they left me there. Two weeks passed. I was still recovering when my brother was shot by the military while stepping out of the mosque after prayers.” Mumtaza, Pattan. “The Indian army along with the local police stormed my house at around 1 am in 2010. They said they were looking for armed militants but they shot and killed 5 members of my family and shot me 11 times with AK47s. Once they left, I had to walk 200 meters to seek help from my neighbours. My arms and upper body are cribbed will shot wound scars.” Fatima Ashraf, Pattan. “My children were playing outside of our house when an Indian army patrol entered the street and started shooting randomly. My husband rushed outside to protect the children. He was shot four times. I found him lying in his blood right outside our door.” Unnamed woman in Poshpora “One night during the winter of 1991, the army came to our village. They asked all the men to come outside of the houses. We could see military all over the place. They took all the men into different spots of the village and tortured them. A group of soldiers came inside my house and raped me in front of my children. When they were done I was in a very bad condition but they installed a curfew that lasted four days where we couldn't leave our houses. Finally after seeking medical help, because of an infection, they removed my ovaries. Today I take antidepressant pills which cause me stomach aches.” Munirka, Pattan. “I was 21 years old when my brother was shot by the Indian army in front of our house. He was simply going out to shop for food. I found him lying on the floor crying for help only a meter away from our door. He died 10 minutes later. No justice or explanation has been given to us.” Altaf Ahmed Wani, Palhalan. “September 6, 2010, I was on my way back from the office.That day there as a protest on the highway near by because the army had killed some innocent people in a nearby village. They fired in every direction. 4 people died on the spot; about hundred people were injured. I got shot in my leg. I was admitted to the hospital for one month. For a year, I couldn't walk. The first surgery failed and after two years they managed to fix me and I can walk again today. No police have been convicted. When someone tried to go and complain they were put behind bars and tortured.” Farooq Ahmad Wani “I spent at least seven to eight years in jail for my participation in protests. In 1996, they drove three other detainees and I to the river. There they killed two of my friends in front of my eyes. I was taken to different interrogation centres where they used all kinds of torture treatment on me. I have been subjected to electric shocks on my private parts; they hanged me completely naked to the ceiling to beat me with sticks; they passed heavy rollers all over my body; they made me drink liters of dirty water in one go. My wife and brothers have also been detained and tortured. I have never held a weapon but I haven't kept quiet about our right to self determination.” Clampdown, is a familiar word in the Valley with curfew routine in Kashmiri lives. Protests, firing, curfew, arrests, snapping of mobile and internet services, with the Army and Paramilitary taking over the affected areas. The new generations remain alienated, with frustration and anger now defining emotions. According to a 2011 survey, 48 per cent of the Kashmiri youth is unemployed. About 70% of its 10 million population is under the age of 31. They have inherited the sense of injustice and discrimination, added to by the events of and post 2010, the year in which approximately 118 young people were killed in police firing across Kashmir. Previously published on Citizen India on Monday, August 31, 2015 Read More Thursday, 9 July 2015 An obscure corner of horror: A remote village in Budgam recounts past repression and continuing lack of justice 15:28 The Kashmir You Need To Know No comments Budgam: The village of Sitaharan, 36 km from district headquarters Budgam, is nestled in thick forests overlooked by the infamous Tosamaidan, and flanked from three sides by army camps — each approximately at a distance of under 15 km. It is also known in the area as “mini Afghanistan” owing to the “toughness” of its people and the violent times they have seen. The village is the last outpost of human habitation on the northern side of Budgam district; the terrain is difficult and even now just the occasional mini bus travels to the village from adjoining Khag township some 12 km away. But this is also a village of relatively unknown horrors: during the last 25 years of conflict in Kashmir, the village has seen an “unbearable” amount of army repression. The villagers, in fact, say that almost everyone was tortured at some point during the last 25 years. “Our plight is still unknown to world. As you can see this is almost a jungle and rarely anybody except the army comes here” says sarpanch Adil Ahmed Sheikh, 56. Adil has been tortured several times. “The torture was such a daily feature of our lives that we have forgotten the number of times we were tortured,” he adds. The villagers vividly remember the ’90s and are full of stories of collective torture and brutal harassment at the hands of the army. One name that recurrently comes up is of one Major Bhim Singh of 34 RR, of the nearby Beerwah Camp, who was posted in the area from the middle ’90s to early 2000. “Major Bhim Singh was a sort of de facto ruler of the army in the whole area. And he was terrible with us,” says Mohammad Jabbar Khan, 65, a resident. In the document ‘Alleged Perpetrators’ (AP) prepared by the JK civil society, Major Bhim Singh of 34 Rashtriya Rifles is accused of extra-judicial killing of three men, two among them from Srinagar — Ghulam Nabi Lone and Shakeel Ahmed — and one Ghulam Mohiddin Zargar from Lanlab, a village just 5 km from Sitaharan. Case No 24 of this document accuses Major Bhim Singh of human rights violations. And all the three case against him are sub judice in the district court Budgam. On 23 July , 1995 , according to the AP document , the three men, Ghulam Nabi Lone and Shakeel Ahmed both employees in the power department, and Ghulam Mohiddin, a local guide, had gone to Uri for a survey assignment when they were killed by Bhim Singh and later called ‘militants’. “We don’t want to remember what we have been through. We were tortured like animals and there are many people who were rendered disabled forever,” says Mohammad Jabbar Khan, who was tortured “innumerable” times by the army. The villagers claim that in the ’90s , the army would come to the village and pick up men one by one and torture them in the ‘provisional torture camp’ in a dilapidated school building . They say they have spent hundreds of nights listening to the cries of the men beaten one by one at the torture camp. According to the villagers, the army from the nearby camps, Drang and Raiyar, and Beerwah, which are at a distance of 7 km, 10 km, and 14 km respectively, would also come to the village and start beating whoever came in their way. “They accused us of hiding militants and providing shelter to them,” says Adil Sheikh. One winter night in 1996, remembers Bashir Ahmed, resident of the village, soldiers from 34 RR from the Beerwah camp took away several men for interrogation. “There were around 30 of us, and they gave electric shocks to us. After that, many men never married,” he says. “I was hit on the head and I still get migraines from time to time, and I still feel like a current is passing through my body,” he adds. Bashir also says that some of the men were tortured so severely that they became disabled: “Around a dozen men never married after that. The army crushed their testicles and inserted copper wires in their private organs.” Fayaz Ahmed (not his real name) is one of the victims of that torture who suffers from permanent impotency. He has a frail physique and limps while he walks. He accuses Bhim Singh of the torture: “He was not a human being, he was an animal. He passed electric current through my private parts and after that let me go.” Zahoor Ahmed Malik, 40, was forced to drink urine when he was taken to the torture centre. “The things the army did here are beyond human comprehension,” he says. Satar Khan , 67, whose arm was broken during torture says the men used to flee to the forests in order to save themselves from the army and some also went to Poonch district to work as daily labourers, ponywallas et al. The women were also not spared. Adil Ahmed Sheikh says that while the men used to flee to adjacent villages and towards the jungle, the army would barge into homes and torture the women. Some were also molested, he says. “The army tortured our mothers, sisters and daughters like animals. Many women were raped, but they buried those things in their souls and never talked about it openly,” says Ghulam Rasool Sheikh, a resident. In August 1999, Farida Begum, 39, was tortured by personnel the Beerwah army camp and rendered disabled forever. “My left arm is disabled. It was twisted by the army and broken at the elbow,” she says. According to her, in late August 1999, three months after her husband died due to torture injuries, a dozen men in plainclothes barged into her house. “I was sleeping with my 14 year-old daughter when the men entered and dragged me out of my bed. Their eyes were bloodshot and they abused me and asked for the whereabouts of militants from the village,” she says. She recounts how the men pushed her aside and began to search, smashing window panes and utensils. “While they were busy searching my home, I, fearing rape, tied my pyjamas with seven knots,” she adds. Finding no weapons or militants in the house, the men dragged her out. “Outside, around 30 army men flanked me and a Major Singh kicked me on the chest and I fell to the ground,” she says. Then the men yanked her by the hair and dragged her to the outskirts of the village. “The major twisted my arm and it broke. Then they tied my arms behind my back and blindfolded me and tore off my clothes,” she says, weeping. “They then threw me to the ground and two soldiers sat on my legs and another forced a bottle of kerosene into my mouth. During all this, she says, the army men kept asking her to show them the militants and their weapons. “I told them that I knew nothing, the only weapons I had are the tools used for wood cutting and agriculture,” she says. Farida says that after torturing her for hours, the army then poured a bucket of water mixed with chillies on her face. “It was like fire. I felt as if my body was set on fire,” she recounts. Later, she was thrown into a stream. “Fortunately, the stream was not too shallow and I crawled out and walked in the dark and fell unconscious.” Next morning, the villagers discovered her unconscious and took her to the nearby Khag hospital where she was treated. The family filed an FIR against the Beerwah Camp. “Nothing has happened to the case and I am too helpless to pursue it. I put my faith in Allah and ask only Him for justice” Farida says. She adds she wants to forget about that day, but the pain her body still feels does not allow her to. “I get migraines and I can’t sleep properly. My body is always in pain” she says. In June 1997, Zooni Begum, a frail 45 year old woman had gone to the nearby jungle to collect wood. Suddenly, her 13 year old daughter came running and told her that the army has come. The army men, who were from the Drang camp, caught hold of her and began to beat her up. “They were saying I give food to the militants and that I have weapons at my home. I denied that and they began to slap me and beat me with gun butts,” she says. In broad daylight, the army dragged her from the jungle toward s her village. They took her to her home and tied her up in a room: “They yanked my hair and tied me with a rope. Then they beat me badly.” The army cordoned off the whole village, and, in her home, Zooni says, the army men tore off her clothes. “Dastgeer Sahab saved my honour. I was praying to God to give me death but not let the animals dishonour me,” she says. At noon, the crackdown was lifted and a semiconscious Zooni was thrown out of her house. “After they threw me out, they set my house on fire. They said it is punishment for not ‘cooperating’ with the army,” she adds. There was no justice later nor any compensation for her burnt house. She too has not pursued the case out of fear. “When I see an army man, my heart beats fast and sweat breaks out on every part of my body,” she says. No FIR has been filed against these incidents and the villagers give two reasons for that. One, that they were “assured” by the then-Congress MLA Sarfaraz Ahmed Khan that he “will handle the issue himself” and that the villagers “need not worry”. “We waited for his advice but in the end he never did anything,” says Fareeda. The second reason, they say, was that there “was no difference between the police and army”. “We had nowhere to go and the police used to threaten us instead, and never came to our help or filed an FIR against the army,” the villagers say. “Those were dark times and we are simple people, we were concerned about our lives and never went to police stations after recurrent refusals and threats. There were even some policemen who were working for the army and they used to tell them everything about our visits to police stations,” they added. By Nayeem Rather | Previously Published On Kashmir Reader ( http://www.kashmirreader.com/an-obscure-corner-of-horror-a-remote-village-in-budgam-recounts-past-repression-and-continuing-lack-of-justice ) on 9th July 2015 Read More Monday, 20 April 2015 Breaking Borders Episode 6 Tortured Past and Present in Kashmir 04:27 The Kashmir You Need To Know No comments https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9xSToFvwD_Y Read More Older Posts Share Subscribe Follow Us! Be Our Fan On Google+ PICTURES www.flickr.com This is a Flickr badge showing public items from Flickr tagged with kashmir. Make your own badge here. Web Toolbar by Wibiya TWEETS Tweets by @KnowKashmir VISITORS Archives ▼ 2016 (1) ▼ July (1) Scenes From a Funeral ? 2015 (5) ? November (1) ? September (1) ? July (1) ? April (1) ? March (1) ? 2014 (6) ? November (2) ? September (3) ? March (1) ? 2013 (10) ? July (2) ? May (1) ? February (6) ? January (1) ? 2012 (26) ? December (2) ? July (1) ? June (5) ? May (3) ? April (2) ? March (1) ? 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