Friday, July 31, 2009

Stone cutter rendered like a stone below chest

Courtesy: Daily Greater Kashmir dt July 31st, 2009Varmul, July 30: When, after firing at him in the back, policemen kept hitting him with bamboo sticks and rifle butts, Manzoor Ahmad Bhat, a stone cutter of Khadniyar village near here, felt death was imminent. Today, he prays for it. He cries the moment his wife turns and repositions his body to prevent bed sores.“On June 19, there was complete shutdown in the town in response to the Varmul chalo call of the Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Some stray incidents of stone pelting had taken place in the morning. But, when I was walking near the Cement bridge, Varmul, on my way to my workplace, a stone quarry at Khanpora, there was no clash and the atmosphere was quiet. Still, they (police) fired at me. I felt total numbness below the chest. Only when my arms fell over the legs did I feel these were in tact, but lifeless,” Manzoor told Greater Kashmir at his home.“Even after firing at me, the police men kept hitting me with gun butts and lathis before lifting me in their vehicle,” Manzoor said, adding they rushed him to the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, Soura, Srinagar.“The bullet, which is still lodged in my spinal chord, has paralyzed me chest down for life,” Manzoor said, adding that after a 6-hour operation, the doctors had decided against removing the bullet from my body as it would further damage my torn spinal chord.” He was the sole breadwinner of the family comprising his wife and aged father. “Who is going to take care of them,” he asked. Manzoor’s father, Ghulam Mohi-ud-din, is worried too. At a time when he could have expected his only son to take care, he has to look after the cripple throughout his life.“I don’t have the money to buy a wheelchair for my paralyzed son. Some injections cost about Rs 2500 each and he needs several shots of these. There is nobody to help us out,” he told Greater Kashmir. “What sin had my son committed that even after shooting at him, our own policemen beat him up with their canes and rifle butts,” Mohi-ud-din asked, adding that he had left home in search of bread for the family and was not even remotely connected with the violent incidents that had taken place in the town earlier in the day. He said there was no hope for the family as it had virtually lost the sole bread earner.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Flashback: July 26th, 1980 - A tale of brutal army raid on Lal Chowk

Courtesy: Daily Rising Kashmir dt July 26th, 2009 by Abdul Mohamin
Srinagar, July 25: Twenty nine years on, the memories of a fateful afternoon still haunt Ghulam Nabi Pandav, Chairman of Tourist Taxi Stand No 2 situated in the busy Lal Chowk. It was 26 July 1980, Pandav recalls, when army personnel stormed the city center and within few hours left with a trail of wholesale beating and arson behind them.
“Some top state police officials were also beaten during the historical army raid from Lal Chowk to Dalgate,” recounts Pandav. “It was all peace, Kashmir was booming with tourism. But the Indian Army men set ablaze scores of our vehicles and damaged dozens others. I still remember the Ambassador Cars bearing Registration No 151, 469, 725 and 903 were set ablaze.”
The Trigger
The trouble, according to still alive eyewitnesses, started when an army vehicle on way to Tattoo Ground, a huge army formation near Batamaloo, collided with another civilian vehicle near Tourist Reception Centre. The driver fled the scene but locals apprehended him. His fellow army men went to the barracks and within no time army streamed in droves and went on a beating spree. I saw people bleeding enmasse and whole of Lal Chowk being turned upside down as the army men shattered everything that came their way inflicting losses to the civilian property worth cores of rupees.
The Tragedy
Pandav says that the army men were so harsh in their raid on people that the local police proved helpless. “Shops were damaged but vehicles were the main target. Police wasn’t able to control the situation. Even the then Superintendent of Police, Ali Muhammad Watali survived a fatal blow.” Ali Muhammad Watali, who retired as DIG in 1989, terms 26 July 1980 as “the most sensitive incident” in whole of his police career.
“I was posted as SP City only a day before the incident,” recollects Watali. On the fateful day Watali, as he narrates the incident, was on his way home when he saw an army vehicle at Lal Chowk having got involved in a motor accident. “As I moved toward my home at Karan Nagar, I directed the then DSP Javaid Makhdoomi (retired as IGP Hqrs in 2008) over wireless that he should handle the case as per the law. Later I came to know that the army had let loose a rein of terror in the city beating and ransacking people. Initially I couldn’t connect the Army atrocities in the city to the earlier accident involving the Indian Army vehicle. On reaching Budshah Chowk I saw an army convoy coming toward Lal Chowk from Tattoo Ground where the Army Supply Corps was stationed. We stopped a vehicle and argued with an Army Captain not to take law in their hands but he didn’t listen. The troopers were targeting vehicles and shopkeepers and beating civilians ruthlessly”
When, Watali goes on to recall, “the police party reached near Taj Hotel, I tried to save a boy who the army men had pounced upon. The moment I told them that I was a police officer they responded hitting me with canes. One of the blows left me unconscious and in a pool of blood. Locals somehow managed to shift me to a hospital.”
In the hospital, Watali was shocked to see Javaid Makhdoomi among the injured.
The Truth
Later an Administrative Committee probed the incident but termed the incident a “quarrel” between army and civilians. “This was never the case,” Watali rues, “I don’t know how Indian Army let loose its men. I don’t know what happened to the Court of Inquiry formulated by the Indian Army to probe the incident.”
Ghulam Nabi Jogi, who then was a fresher among the professional drivers, says: “The crisis ended only after a divine intervention in the shape of a cloud burst. Indian Army had plans to set the entire city ablaze. They had brought enough petrol with them. The last show was to take place at Batamaloo. The area from Lal Chowk to Gagribal (near Nehru Park) was ransacked. Rains spoiled the angry army men’s plans as it forced them back into the barracks.”
The Twist
Abdul Qayoom Shah is yet another eyewitness to this wholesale arson and beating incident. Says he, “The army atrocities on that day sent people thinking over the accord Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah had signed with New Delhi.” The following day, according to Shah, Sheikh appeared in Lal Chowk atop a bus and addressed people. He demonstrated his anger against Indian army and New Delhi. Thus he managed to defuse the volatile situation and promised compensation for the victims. Pandav, the Taxi Stand Chief, confirms that then government later gave compensation to the victims whose vehicles where set ablaze.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Human Rights Activist Sodomised in Delhi's Tihar Jail

‘ICRC doesn’t report what they see’
Courtesy: Daily Rising Kashmir dt July 19th, 2009 by Ishfaq Tantry
Srinagar, July 18: Narrating the inhuman torture meted out to Kashmiris languishing in Tihar jail, human rights activist Mohammad Ahsan Untoo who was arrested by special Cell of Delhi Police in 2005 and released recently alleged he was even “sodomised” in Tihar jail.“Police officials inside the jail asked one elderly sweeper to sodomise me, while I was tied with ropes with my belly touching ground. It was so humiliating,” said Untoo while speaking to newsmen in Rajbagh Srinagar during a press conference organised by People’s Rights Movement, an organization fighting to stop torture in Kashmir.He alleged that detainees are ordered to insert their private parts into the mouth of other Kashmiri detainees and the same was repeated with him. Untoo showed two cavities inside his mouth with teeth missing. He alleged that these teeth were broken during his torture in Tihar.“Not only this,” narrates Untoo “they put rodents, frogs and bees into my dress after tying it with a thin rope around my ankles, abdomen, and neck. It was the cruellest form of physical torture I endured in Dhula Kuan Police station.” Describing his ordeal he said: “During torture they accused me of my making a bid on the life of Prof SAR Geelnai. I was shocked to hear this. Even they asked me to sign a blank paper.”
He added “From 56 days from December 30 to February 26, I was detained and tortured in police station Dhula Kuan and 26 February 2005 I was shifted to Tihar Jail.”
Untoo claimed: “Despite being an under-trail. I was made to sweep and clean gutters, toilets and sewers inside Tihar jail on regular basis. Challan was produced against me after three months but during these months no legal aid was available to me.”
Untoo added that in Tihar Jail he came across many Kashmiri detainees who were tortured and humiliated by Dhula Kuna police cops. He said that the basement cell is specifically meant for Kashmiris where they are tortured. Taking a dig at the role of International Committee for Red Cross, Untoo said: “ICRC presence inside Tihar did not make any difference. They did not report what they see. It is unfortunate. I narrated to them I was sodomised and tortured inside the Tihar when they visited us in March and August 2006. But they didn’t report it.” He further added, “When I told the story to the Judge in the Trail Court No 38, she asked me to produce the evidence that I was sodomised. It shocked me.” Untoo thanked the role played by senior Delhi lawyer and HR activist Nandita Haksar, Gautam Navlakha and Parvez Imroz for making the much needed legal aid available to him. “I owe my freedom to these persons.” Untoo was finally released on 2 July 2009.He was arrested in 30 December 2004 from Priya Guest House in Daryagunj and was taken to Lodhi Colony and then shifted to Dhulla Kuan Police station.He appealed International human rights organizations to “help stop torture on the Kashmiri and non-Kashmiri detainees lodged in Tihar Jail and detention Centres in and outside Jammu and Kashmir.”
On the other hand speaking during the press conference, PRM President Abdul Qadeer Dar said, “Untoo’s story is one of the thousand s of torture stories of Kashmir witnessed during the past 20 years.” He said: “PRM wants to document the torture practised over the past 20 years by troopers and police in Kashmir and outside over Kashmiris detainees.” He added that that a legal aid cell which includes Nandita Haksar, Gautam Navlakha, Parvez Imroz, and Ahsan Untoo, PRM and other human rights activists has been formed by them to provide much needed legal help to different Kashmiri detainees.”

Monday, July 13, 2009

'Jan Commission's purpose of Shopian inquiry defeated'

Courtesy: Zee News dated July 12th, 2009

New Delhi, July 12: Justice Muzaffar Ahmad Jan probing the alleged rape and murder of two women in Shopian district of Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday accepted that the very purpose of the Commission was defeated as prime culprits were still not identified.

"I feel sorry. If the culprit was apprehended then of course it would have been a complete success. You cannot create evidence. You have to wait. Commission does compel anyone to depose," Jan told reporters in a telephonic interview.

He was answering to a question whether the purpose of the Commission was defeated as prime culprits were yet to be identified.

He also chose to distance himself from some annexures in his report, questioning the behaviour of brother and husband of Neelofar -one of the victims, which generated controversy in the valley.

"That is not my report...Unfortunately...what has happened is that the investigating team, our police investigating team have also prepared their investigating report which I did not accept, which I did not take on record, which I did not include in the main report," he said when asked about some portions of his report which generated anger in the valley.

When asked specifically why he submitted those annexures if they were not part of his report, Jan tried to defend himself saying,"...that is all right annexures were there but I have not incorporated anything in the report. You see, if somebody puts up an application before the court, the court keeps the application on the file. We don't clear off the application. The fact is that we have not taken anything from the report."

"You see there are number of other annexures with the report...Investigating authority has submitted a list of 60 witnesses examined by them. Along with that report, which is his report, saying that investigations on these lines could be conducted. I had nothing further to do with the investigations. I did not adopt the report," he further clarified.

When asked why he did not leave a note of dissent in his report, Justice Jan said it was a one man commission so there was no question of any dissent.

He also said prime culprits could not be nailed because initially evidence was "destroyed" which could be attributed to "negligence" of the investigating police officers.

"Evidence was not collected when it was available, when it could have been detected then ultimately the evidence is destroyed. It can be attributed to negligence also," he said.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Inquiry report indicts army for murdering Kupwara’s Fayaz tailor

Courtesy: Daily Rising Kashmir dated July 8th, 2009 by Shahjahan Afzal
Kupwara, July 07: Police has indicted troops of 18 RR in the February 1, 2009 killing of a Kupwara tailor Fayaz Ahmad Mir while the family members of the victim have demanded immediate punishment to the guilty troopers. Fayaz, 28, was killed at Zab Khurhama Lolab area of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district outside his residence.
Referring to the report his office obtained from Dy SP Kupwara vide his office Letter No 09-2221 dated 29 April 2009, SP Kupwara in his verification report to Deputy Commissioner Kupwara vide Letter No Confi-2A/09-467 dated 4 May 2009 mentions that Fayaz was killed by troops of Army’s 18 RR unit on February 1, 2009 at Zab Khurhama. In his letter, the SP writes that the deceased Fayaz, or any of his close relatives, was not involved in any kind of subversive (anti-national) activities.
He mentions that as per the records of the concerned police station no criminal case stands registered against Fayaz. Meanwhile, Fayaz’s family has demanded stern punishment against the guilty troopers. Fayaz’s mother Saja Begum said: “Fayaz’s last words were that six army men fired at him from point blank.” She denounced the army’s claim that Fayaz was killed in relentless firing of militants. “There was neither any cross firing incident nor any movement of militants,” she said. “Chief Minister Omar Abdullah should personally intervene and ensure that the guilty troopers are hanged publicly.” Fayaz is survived by his wife Tahira, 24, and four children Irfan, 9, Javaid, 8, Nida Jan, 7, and Saqib. The family lives in a shabby two-room hut. “My children trouble me posing questions about their father,” Tahira said. “I remember the days when I would be upset and Fayaz would console me. Now there is no one to console me.” The family members said they have suffered immensely at the hands of troopers. Fayaz’s paternal uncle Zia Mir was killed allegedly by army who tied a bomb around him at Khorhama Chowk, they said. Zia was working as a porter with Army’s Kuligam post and, according to the family, had refused to obey army’s diktats. Police had registered a case vide FIR No 03/09 Under Section 302 of RPC and started investigation to establish the circumstances that led to the killing of Fayaz.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Courtesy: Daily Kashmir Images dated July 5th, 2009
Srinagar, July 04: A noted Indian historian has rubbed India hard for its track-record in Kashmir describing Kashmir as a “big blot on India’s democracy”. Ramachandra Guha, the Bangalore-based historian and biographer, while delivering the fifth Nehru memorial Lecture 2009 on "Democracy and Violence in South Asia and Beyond" at the Nehru Centre in London on Friday night, compared the Sri Lanka’s handling of Tamils issue with India’s handling of Kashmir. Drawing a parallel between the violence in Jammu and Kashmir and Northern Sri Lanka, Guha who has previously taught at the Universities of Yale and Stanford, said, "Just as Kashmir is a big blot on India's democracy, the treatment of Tamils is a signal failure of Sri Lankan democracy. "As in Kashmir, the problem arose because of denial of democracy's software and hardware - elections were rigged both in Kashmir and Northern Sri Lanka," he said, adding "cultural pluralism in terms of language, in terms of dress, in terms of faith is a serious part of democracy." Patrick French, a noted writer presided over the function, which was attended by the Indian High Commissioner to the UK, Shiv Shankar Mukherjee. Highlighting the merits of cultural pluralism, Guha warned against the discrimination on the basis of language or religion. He said he wanted India to be a "more contented and less violent place”