Friday, December 26, 2008


Murdered farmer's family wants justice -THEY SHATTERED OUR HAPPY FAMILY: MOTHER
courtesy: Daily Greater Kashmir dt. Dec. 26th, 2008 by ARIF SHAFI WANI
Chatpora, (Shopian), Dec 25: “Where’re you my beloved” repeatedly shouted Rafiqa Begum, whose husband, Ghulam Hassan Malla, the lone breadwinner of the family, was killed in custody by troopers of 62 Rashtriya Rifles last month just for objecting to the ‘obscene act’ of a soldier. She is lone witness to the incident when a RR trooper threatened to kill her husband after he objected to the soldiers ‘immoral behaviour’. Rafiqa is so shocked by her husband’s killing that she is unable to talk about the incident. Rafiqa’s is crazy with grief. For past 20 days, villagers, including womenfolk gather around her under construction single storey house and try to console her but in vain. “Her husband’s killing has affected Rafiqa psychologically. She sits on the verandah and weeps for the whole day. Malla was the lone breadwinner and male member of the family,” said Zaina, her neighbor, as she could not hide her tears. As some villagers showed Malla’s photograph to this reporter, Zaina stood up and grabbed it. She passionately kissed the photograph and broke down. The villagers tried to snatch the photograph but she wouldn’t let it go. “The troopers have shattered my happy family,” said Malla’s aged mother Sajja. “My son was innocent and killed for objecting to wrongdoings by the troops. He is a martyr,” she said. Recounting the fateful day, Sajja said as a routine Malla left to work in the nearby orchards. “He had objected to the soldier’s immoral behaviour with a local girl. The soldier threatened him of dire consequences upon which Malla had a heated argument with him,” she said. Next day, she said the army launched a cordon-and search operation in the village and asked for Malla. “Despite our protests, they took my son along with them promising to release him after questioning. However, when he was not released, I along with other villagers rushed to the camp. The troops assured us that Malla was well and would be released soon,” Sajja said. However, next day, the troops called some villagers, including Malla’s cousin, Bashir Ahmad to the camp. The army men told them that had Malla died during interrogation. “We were shocked to see his body in a pool of blood as the brutal men in uniform had burnt his private parts and broken his wrist. Blood was still oozing from his nostrils, mouth and ears. The walls of the room were splattered with bloodstains. A stove and knives used for killing Malla were near his body. We refused to take the body and informed the police first,” Bashir said. As the news of Malla’s custodial killing reached his native village, people, including women had marched towards the RR camp. “For the first time in 20 years, the villagers staged demonstrations against Army and even attacked the RR camp. However, the troops severely thrashed the protesters injuring dozens of them,” the local said. To prevent the situation from escalation, the authorities had imposed curfew in the district. “The troops took our photographs and threatened to implicate us in false cases. But we offered resistance and continue to stage protests against the killing,” the locals said. Ironically police has filed FIR against nearly 70 protesters for protesting against the murder. Succumbing to public pressure, authorities registered a case of abduction and murder case against Major S K Saroj and his troops. Sensing trouble, the locals alleged that Army offered money to the family. “Despite living in abject poverty, we rejected the Army’s offer to hush up the case in lieu of five lakh rupees. Can a mother do sell-out of son’s blood,” Sajja said. Director General of Police Kuldeep Khoda said an FIR 93/08 under section 342/302 has been registered against the accused Major and troopers. “We have booked Major SK Saroj and his troopers for abduction and murder of Malla. The investigation of the case was being pursued vigorously,” the DGP said. However, Malla’s cousin, Muhammad Iqbal who filed the case against the Army, said, “It is surprising that the Major and his troopers have not been arrested yet. The Army has shifted the accused Major from the Camp. They should be hanged for committing the heinous crime. The authorities are trying to weaken the case to boost the morale of its troops,” Iqbal said.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Kashmiris Suffer ‘Capital Punishment’

In summer capital boycott dominates polling
Courtesy: Daily Rising Kashmir dt. Dec. 25th, 2008 by Baba Umar,
Srinagar,Dec 24: The poll turnout euphoria that was witnessed during the earlier six phases of polling in Kashmir disappeared on Wednesday as Srinagar maintained its record of lowest poll percentage. Tough security restrictions to facilitate the last phase of elections for eight seats of Srinagar saw people cursing themselves for having chosen the city as their abode. “As if it was a punishment for being in the capital city,” said an anguished resident, Abdul Hameed who had decided to vote but did not after the City was put under virtual siege forty-eight hours before the polling began Tuesday morning. There were no frenzied voters and long queues that were earlier seen in Bandipora, Ganderbal, Baramulla, Kupwara, Budgam, Islamabad, Pulwama, Kulgam and Shopian. Unlike previous occasions, the mediamen had to locate the voters to have their bytes.Srinagar witnessed large scale anti-election protests and police and paramilitary, who were deployed in strength across the city, faced tough time in quelling the demonstrations. The boycott call of separatists, which was more or less not respected by people during first six phases, was totally effective on Wednesday as most of the people stayed away from poll process and preferred to stay indoors. The seventh and final round of polls also witnessed scattered clashes, fake voting, and poor turnout in many parts of Srinagar, where 152 candidates were in the fray from eight constituencies.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Courtesy: Daily Greater Kashmir dt. Dec. 14, 2008 by Naseer A. Ganaie, Mudassir
Koil (Pulwama), Dec 13: Today when people in two districts of Pulwama and Shopian were voting, police and CRPF men reportedly avenged anti-election protests by people in this small hamlet, killing a B.A Ist year student. Two other youth received bullet injuries. Muzaffar Mushtaq son of Mushtaq Ahmad Ganai, Muhammad Ayub Kumar son of Ghulam Muhammad Kumar and Zeeshan Ali son of Ali Muhammad received bullets when troopers and police opened fire to disperse the villagers who had assembled near Jamia Masjid here. The injured youth were rushed to the district hospital where from they were shifted to the SMHS hospital in Srinagar, some 60 kms from Pulwama. Doctors in SMHS declared Muzaffar, 21, brought dead. Zeeshan was operated upon and a part of his ruptured intestine was removed. However doctors termed his and Kumar’s conditions as stable. Residents termed the firing as unprovoked and targeted.
EYEWITNESSES SAY Panic had gripped the Koil village since early morning after SOG personnel and CRPF troopers entered the houses, allegedly threatening people to vote. The villagers including women had assembled on the roads. Rashid Ahmad, a local said they heard four to five gunshots at 8 am and soon after the SOG personnel and CRPF troopers barged into some houses asking people to come out to vote. “It was peaceful till they entered into our houses,” Rashid said. He said the extreme provocation prompted them to assemble on road near the Masjid. “Soon after a group of SOG personnel, policemen and CRPF troopers reached on the spot and resorted to baton charging,” Rashid, 60, said. They fired hundreds of bullets and several tear gas canisters in air to disperse the villagers, another local Muzaffar Hussain said. “But we stayed united fearing if we will return to our houses, the troopers will thrash us,” Muzaffar said. He said the troopers and SOG personnel provoked them to pelt stones. “From a group of CRPF personnel, an aged trooper first started pelting stones forcing our youth to retaliate,” Muzaffar said. The stone pelting had continued for 20 minutes. “As more people joined the protests another contingent of troopers joined by the SOG personnel reached the spot at around 11 am. They started thrashing everybody including women. Failing to disperse us, they entered our houses and damaged the window panes and doors and scattered house-hold items,” Ghulam Qadir said. The troopers had broken the window panes and a door of his house. “They even beat my two daughters,” said Qadir’s wife, Haja Begum amid sobs. He said the firing continued till 11:30 am. “The troopers and the SOG fired thousands of bullets in air. Failing to disperse us and after running short of ammunition, they left the spot and protestors were pacified,” Qadir said. Shakeel Ahmad said at around 12 pm another contingent of CRPF and police rushed to the spot. He said the villagers were peacefully sitting on the roadsides and shop vends. “But the CRPF and SOG personnel party opened fire on a group of people without any provocation injuring three youth,” he said. Shakeel added the ‘unprovoked’ angered the villagers who engaged the troopers and SOG personnel in stone pelting. “They fired more bullets in air and resorted to baton charg injuring at least 20 more persons.” At 1 pm the whole village had came out on the roads and anger was visible on every face. Men and youth were waiting for the body of Muzaffar to bury it. Inside the house of slain Muzaffar, hundreds of wailing women had gathered. They were trying to console the family members. But tears were trickling down from every face. Barely 50 meters away from the house a grave was being prepared for Muzaffar in the martyrs graveyard. “Muzaffar is the 13th martyr of the village,” said Shabir Ahmad. His friend added that Muzaffar had secured distinction in the 10th and 12th class.
PHOTOJOURNALISTS THRASHED The photojournalists were again at the receiving end of the police and CRPF troopers today. When the news about the Koil incident spread in Pulwama, the photojournalists and reporters of various international, national and local media organizations rushed towards the spot. The security agencies stopped them and didn’t allow them to carry on with their professional work. They even tried to thrash them. But this didn’t stop the journalists and without caring for consequences covered the incident. Many photo journalists were later thrashed by the troopers. The government on Friday evening had warned photojournalists not to rush to cover elections in towns before afternoon. The photojournalists refused to buckle down under pressure and rushed to various spots to do their professional duties.
MAGISTERIAL PROBE The divisional commissioner Kashmir, Masood Samoon, in the evening said the government has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the killing of a person in Koil Pulwama. “The deputy commissioner Pulwama has been appointed as the inquiry officer. He has been asked to give a factual report within 15 days,” he told reporters in a press conference in Srinagar.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Kokernag Village Shocked; Govt Orders Usual Probe
Courtesy: Daily Greater Kashmir dt. Nov. 5th, 2008 by Khalid Gul
Dandipora (Kokernag), Dec 4: Alleged rape of a 13-year-old girl and molestation of a woman by army troopers in this south Kashmir village triggered massive protests on Thursday. Locals said that a group of troopers from 36 Rashtriya Rifles barged into the house of Muhammad Abdul Khatana, Imam of the local Masjid, last night and gang-raped her daughter. While narrating the nightmarish experience, Khatana told Greater Kashmir: “I, my wife and three minor kids were sleeping in the kitchen while my son (7), my brother in law, (also my cousin who is putting up with us) and my daughter, Fahmeeda (name changed), the victim, were sleeping in another room.” He said that around 10:15 pm last night, some people knocked at the door. “As I peeped through the window, I saw six troopers. Out of fear I didn’t open the door. They broke the bolt and barged into the house. First they told me that they have to search the house but when I tried to switch on the light, they reprimanded me. Then I sought their permission to light a candle, but they caught hold of me and nearly lynched me,” he said. Khatana said that they (troopers) locked him in one of the rooms and his wife and kids in the other room. “They also thrashed my brother-in-law, and locked him in the bathroom,” he said, adding, “After locking all of us they took my daughter Fahmeeda into the other room. Four of the troopers gang-raped her for an hour, while the two others remained outside to guard them.” Khatana with his eyes moist said that he kept on hearing the screams of her minor daughter helplessly for nearly an hour. “We raised an alarm and few of the villagers heard our screams,” he added.
Locals said that some of the villagers ran towards Khatana’s house after hearing screams. “As the troopers saw people approaching they fled away from the spot,” they said, adding, “As we entered Khatana’s house we found the inmates locked in different rooms. Fahmeeda was lying naked in the room, unconscious with bruises all over her body.” Locals said that they saw an army vehicle parked a few meters away from the victim’s house. “We approached them and told them that their men have raped a minor, but they denied. The troopers initially told us that they might have been militants, but when we told them that they were wearing the same uniform and carrying the same guns they had, they told us that then it might have been CRPF men,” the locals said. Haji Mumtaz Ali, an elderly resident said that after the incident troopers approached them and intimidated the villagers to give a statement that troopers from 36-RR were not involved in the act. “We offered resistance and refused to follow their diktats,” Ali said. After the incident, some of the villagers called the Police Station, Kokernag, and informed them about the incident. “Police reached on the spot and took the victim along,” locals said.
Ruqaya Begum, the mother of the victim was in a shock and was crying continuously. She didn’t utter a word but pain and agony were palpable on her face. Locals said that before entering into the house of Khatana, the troopers around 9:00 pm attempted to rape one Rafeeqa (name changed), wife of Muhammad Yaqoob, but the lady offered stiff resistance and they fled away.OFFICIALS SPEAK When contacted, the Station House Officer, Kokernag, Nisar Ahmad said, “The medical report does not confirm that the girl has been raped, however FIR bearing number 137/08 under section 354 and 456 RPC, 27 Arms Act has been lodged and investigations are on.” He, however, confirmed that troopers of 36 RR as well as paramilitary CRPF troopers were deployed in the area last night. “We are ascertaining who was involved in the act,” the SHO added. The Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Islamabad, Nitish Kumar said that there is no mention of rape in the written complaint lodged by the family members of the victim. “In the written complaint they have mentioned that uniformed gunmen barged into their house and tried to molest her. Police is investigating,” Kumar added. The additional deputy commissioner, Islamabad, Bashir Ahmed Khan said that administration has ordered a magisterial probe into the incident. “We have asked the tehsildar to investigate the matter and submit his report within three days,” he said. Khan, however, denied having received any medical report. “We are waiting for a written medical report from the doctors. Victim is admitted in the hospital and she is under observation,” he said, adding, “Till now it has not been established whether it’s a rape or an attempted rape. In both the cases it is a gruesome act. The accused won’t be spared.” Khan said that police have arrested a Sumo driver in this connection. “The Sumo in which the uniformed gunmen came has been seized and investigations are on,” he said. Army’s Srinagar based spokesman, Lt Colonel Katchari said, “We are investigating the matter. It seems CRPF was also deployed in the area.”
PROTESTS As the word about the incident spread in the area this morning, hundreds of people raising anti-troops slogans took to the streets demanding stern action against the erring troopers. Policemen and paramilitary CRPF troopers who were deployed there beat up the protesters with batons and fired numerous tear smoke canisters to disperse them. In the police and CRPF action at least six persons including a minor were injured. Former minister and senior Congress leader, Peerzada Muhammad Sayed, had to face the wrath of people when he reached there. Witnesses said as soon as the motorcade of Sayeed entered the village, angry protesters pelted stones on it and chased him away.SEHAR DEMANDS JUDICIAL PROBE The Peoples Democratic Party candidate for Kokernag, Sehar Iqbal demanded a judicial probe into the incident. In a statement here she said, “It is a inhuman act and we condemn it. This gruesome incident should be probed by a sitting Judge as people have lost faith in the state agencies.”