Army beat locals protesting arrest of youths in Kashmir

November 17, 2015 OPINION/NEWS


Irfan Rashid

The situation in Indian controlled Kashmir turned hostile on Monday when the Indian army beat locals, including a woman, in North Kashmir who were demanding the release of three youths arrested the previous night by the Army during nocturnal raids. Five people were injured, one among them critically in this incident.


Locals say three youths arrested

The soldiers of the Army’s ’14 Rashtriya Rifles’ entered the residential house of Noorani Khan of Zaba GujjarBasti Chuntimulla at 3.30 am on Monday “in a terrifying manner.” They arrested three cousin brothers from the house who were sleeping in a 10 x 12 ft room. The arrested trio, Manzoor Ahmad Khan, Shakoor Ahmad Khan and Junaid Ahmad Khan were beaten to a pulp and were taken to Chuntimulla 14 RR camp while covering their faces with cloth, their family said.

“Army men entered our house before the morning prayers and started thrashing us mercilessly without saying anything,” the family members of Noorani Khan said. “They were accompanied by cops of the Special Operations Group. The Army party was headed by Major Sarwat of 14 RR.”

The family members said the soldiers asked them to assemble in one room and closed the door. “They caught hold of Manzoor, Sakoor and Junaid and covered their faces with cloth and started beating them mercilessly,” they said. “We heard their screams for at least 15 minutes. The trio was whisked away by the Army men.  They (the soldiers) were beating them and we were asked to shut the door.”

“We pleaded with them to leave the youths, but they rebuked and abused us,” the family members said.

Shakeel, a neighbour of Noorani Khan, said he is terrified by the incident. “I thought somebody died. I peeped through the window of my house and saw Army men kicking the youths. They were screaming,” he said. 



Massive protests

To press for the release of the trio, hundreds assembled at 8:30 am, incluing women and children, from areas such as Zabn GujjarBasti, Sumlar, Arin and Kunan. They marched towards the 14 RR camp to seek the release of the three youths.

The protesters said as soon they were near the camp, the soldiers “without any provocation beat us up.”

The Army action resulted in injuries to five people. One of the injured is said to be critical.

The injured were identified as Sakina Bano (40), Ghulam Hassan Khan (35), Javid Ahmad Khan (30), Reshmi Jan (38) and Muhammad Hussain Khan (32).

Locals said the injured were profusely bleeding and people took them on wooden stretchers to the District Hospital at Bandipora. Three of the injured—Sakina, Ghulam Hassan and Javid—were referred to SKIMS Srinagar—tertiary hospital of Kashmir—for specialized treatment. The other two were discharged after first-aid, a doctor said.

“Three people including the women had received head injuries. We have referred them to SKIMS,” Dr Shaker Ahmad, who attended the injured at District Hospital Bandipora said. “They have been hit by a sharp-edged weapon.”

Dr Shaker said the condition of Sakina is “a bit critical.”

Locals said, while people took the injured to the District Hospital in a procession, police lobbed hundreds of teargas shells to disperse them.

The teargas shells were lobbed in Sulmar, Arin, Kunan and Mader areas.

“However after the intervention of Assistant Commissioner of Bandipora, police allowed people to lift the injured to hospital,” they said.

As the news spread in Bandipora, people took to the streets and held strong protest demonstrations against the Army, Police and the government.

“They (army men) caught hold of me and beat me with gun-butts,” Sakina told Tuck Magazine. “Blood started oozing through my ear and nose.”

Some of the women, who were part of the protests, said they were manhandled by the Army men outside Chuntimulla 14 RR camp. “The army men came out in the dozens from the camp and started beating us to a pulp. They pounced on us,” the women protesters said.

To protest the beating of protestors and manhandling of women by the Army, people in the hundreds later held strong protest demonstrations in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s Office. They were chanting pro-freedom, anti-army and anti-government slogans.

To pacify the protestors, the Deputy Commissioner asked the Army to hand the trio over to the police. They were later handed over but are still in custody, an official said.

A police official said one among the trio has been “badly tortured.”

“We are treating all of them,” he said. 



Army ‘thrashes’ brothers during search operation in north Kashmir’s Kupwara

Soldiers thrashed two brothers in Rajpora Zachildara village, about six kilometers from Handwara town.

Sources said that the soldiers of 21 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) along with Special Operation Group (SOG) of police cordoned off the village on Monday morning and then searched it. After the search was over, the soldiers reportedly held one Shah Faisal, 21, who was returning home.

Locals said that while Faisal was being “tortured” by the men in uniform, his elder brother Imtiyaz Ahmad rushed to his help.

“But the soldiers beat Imtiyaz too. While Faisal’s arm was fractured, Imtiyaz has internal injuries,” they said.

Later, a group of villagers were prevented from filing a complaint at the local police station.



Forces conducting 90s-style searches of passenger vehicles in north

The army and police have been searching passenger and private vehicles on several major routes of north Kashmir for the past month, similar to what they used to do during the early years of the anti-India insurgency.

The forces ask the passengers to get down from vehicles and, after checking their I-cards, make them walk a few paces before they board the vehicles again. At some places, people are made to walk between 200 and 400 metres.

Such searches are now common on Srinagar-Muzaffarabad, Srinagar-Kupwara and Bandipora-Srinagar roads.

Banners reading “photography is restricted here” have been put up near these checkpoints.

Several commuters press spoke to said the forces also search handbags of women and schoolbags of girl students.

A schoolgirl from Rafiabad, wishing anonymity, said that a group of soldiers forced her to lift her Burka near Seelu, Sopore two days ago but she refused.

A senior police officer, requesting anonymity, said, “We have been asked to assist the army in searches although we have no reports about the movement of militants.”


The Army’s version of events

An official of the Army’s 15 Corps said that soldiers and SOG had launched a joint operation in the area. He said the joint party apprehended some suspects from the area.

“After apprehending some people, there were clashes. Police resorted to a lathicharge (baton charge) to disperse the crowd. There was intense stone-pelting. Army doesn’t resort to lathi-charge,” he said, adding, “Later all the suspects were handed over to police.”








Irfan Rashid

The author has a specialization in literary journalism and reports on conflict, politics, urban development, rural development, education and environment in Indian Administered Kashmir. You can read his stories and can follow him on @irfan_kashmiri.



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