Posts Tagged ‘Militant’

Jammu and Kashmir may have failed to hog media headlines in recent times, but stories of personal tragedy have continued to unfold in the picturesque valley, without respite. These are stories of young men who the government and the army believe to be ‘terrorists’ who got what they deserved. But the relatives of these ‘terrorists’ insist it was atrocities by the State that pushed these men into the folds of militant outfits. Baba Umartraces three case studies of Kashmir’s new breed of militants.
Baba Umar

January 10, 2013, Issue 3 Volume 10

Photo: Abid Bhat

TORTURE AND HUMILIATION MADE HIM A MILITANT

MUZAMIL AHMAD DAR, 24 Operation Theatre Assistant from Sopore

IN 2009, Muzamil topped his course to become an operation theatre assistant in a Srinagar hospital. But three years later, he was romancing an AK-47. The then Union home minister P Chidambaram described him as an “absconding Lashkare- Toiba (LeT) militant”. And on 21 October last year, he was killed in an encounter with security forces in north Kashmir’s Sopore town, 66 km north of Srinagar.

Born in a middle-class family of electronics traders, Muzamil once used to teach at a training centre run by the Rajiv Gandhi Literacy Mission. In a picture taken several months before his killing, Muzamil in his white cap and small black beard gives a confident gaze. His friends say he was working hard to pay off a family debt.

Muzamil’s father Mohammad Amin Dar, 55, will never forget 17 November 2010. “On that day, two men on the run from the police tossed a black bag into the kitchen garden of our house. My wife was there. Scared, she dumped the bag in the well. We never knew the act would take our son’s life,” says Dar. Soon, personnel of the army and the police’s Special Operation Group (SOG, a counter-insurgency force that human rights groups have often criticised for excesses) raided their house. Muzamil was detained along with his father and two brothers.

Dar sobs as he recalls what happened next: “I was made to watch as Muzamil’s brothers were forced to pull his legs in opposite directions as he sat bound to a chair. The cops were laughing aloud at his screams. It was humiliating.” Muzamil was charged under the Public Safety Act and kept in police custody for nearly 10 months, before the case was quashed. And when Chidambaram called him an LeT mastermind on 28 February last year, it shook the family’s faith in the system. “Police torture and harassment left Muzamil with no recourse but to pick up the gun,” argues Dar.

HE BRIBED THE POLICE TO BEAT HIM LESS

ATIR AHMAD DAR, 19 1st year Arts student from Sopore

ONCE EVERY week for the past few years, Atir would ask for 200 from his father Mohammad Yousuf Dar. This wasn’t pocket money, however. As the family later learnt, he was using this money to bribe the constables inside the police camp to beat him a little less. Atir’s journey from a boy who played cricket on the streets of Sopore to an LeT militant is another story of how some young men in Kashmir end up clutching guns after suffering atrocities at the hands of the security forces.

On 20 December last year, the villagers of Saidpora — 5 km west of Sopore town — woke up to the sounds of a gunfight that left five Pakistani insurgents and a local militant dead. In their rage, the soldiers not only blasted the houses where the militants had found shelter during the encounter, but also bulldozed over 170 apple trees. The local militant who engaged the troops in the gunfight before being killed turned out to be Atir.

Atir’s family treasures a photograph that shows him as a young boy in a blackand- grey striped sweater, sporting the hairstyle made popular by soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo. Atir’s friends and relatives blame the police for his transformation from a student into an LeT militant. They accuse the police of “implicating” young men like Atir in false cases of stonepelting and meting out “collective punishment” to their families.

It began when the boy was tortured inside Sopore police station to confess that he was involved in a stone-pelting case of 2011. “He was released on bail, but only after he was mercilessly beaten up for four weeks. He told us how he was repeatedly kicked in the abdomen, caned and lashed with belts,” says Atir’s mother Sara Begum.

The harassment and torture did not end after Atir got bail. Begum says Atir was regularly summoned to the police station and the nearby Special Operations Group camp where the Station House Officer Gazanfar and Deputy Superintendent of Police Iqbal Tantry would allegedly monitor the torture.

“And one day in July last year, he just stopped appearing before the police and disappeared,” says Atir’s polio-afflicted brother Tawheed Ahmad Dar. He says there was no other way for his brother to escape the relentless harassment. Atir’s family never heard of him again until social networking sites flashed images of his bullet-riddled body on 20 December.

THE BOY WHO RETURNED TO MILITANCY

ASHIQ AHMAD LONE, 22 1st year Arts student from Shopian

ASHIQ WAS summoned to a police camp in Shopian almost every week. Though he never spoke about being tortured there, every time he went to the camp, his mother Zareefa Akhter, 45, made sure to keep some hot water ready to remove the blood stains from his body when he returned in the evening.

“Those days, at least, he used to come back home,” says Zareefa. Today, she fears that her son, who went missing in July last year, might get killed in a gun battle with the security forces.

Ashiq was a Class 10 student in 2010 when he had first strayed into militant ranks. However, he returned after 15 days and spent the next two months in police custody. And immediately after his release, he opened a grocery shop in his village and enrolled in a nearby college to study arts. But the ordeal had, in fact, just begun.

Ashiq was often summoned to the SOG camp in the area, where he was tortured every time. This continued until July last year when he went missing again and joined the militants.

The police regularly harassed the family and also offered to help Ashiq get a government job if he surrenders. “We don’t trust the police. They first made Ashiq a militant by subjecting him to torture and abuse, and now they promise to give him a job,” says Zareefa.

IN KASHMIR, police harassment of local youth is a problem for the army as well. A senior official of 44 Rashtriya Rifles told TEHELKA: “Police harassment is not a new thing. The army mostly focusses on foreign elements, but the police is sparking this conflict again. That’s why there are more young men at army recruitment exercises than at police job rallies.”

In all the three cases above, the police has dismissed the relatives’ version as “rubbish and propaganda”. Sources claim nearly 40 boys have joined the Hizbul Mujahideen and the LeT in 2012 alone, most of them educated and coming from welloff families. This is a considerable figure keeping in view the total number of militants (223, according to police figures) in the state.

Kashmir’s new militants may be a mere addition to this statistic, but for the majority of its people, they are “martyrs” created as a result of the “atrocities perpetrated by the police and army”.

babaumar@tehelka.com

 

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Fair Game

Photo: Shailendra Pandey

The killing of two sarpanches in a fortnight has mortally threatened the existence of the valley’s fledgling Panchayat Raj institutions. More than a 100 panches and sarpanches have tendered their resignations through paid advertisements in the local newspapers. Many, who couldn’t do it through the media, have rushed to their village mosques to announce the decision.

The situation is reminiscent of the early nineties when classified pages in local newspapers were filled with resignation letters of political workers. The ads ran under the heading, “Non-affiliation to any Political Party,” and carried a short message which expressed remorse and sought forgiveness for the person’s past political activities while announcing the decision to quit.

In an uncanny throwback to the period, the local newspapers are once again running the similar ads. This time, it is panches and sarpanches resigning from their jobs after suspected militants killed their two colleagues in quick succession.

Does this underline a certain resurgence of militancy in the state? It does appear so from a distance. But actually, militancy today is far past its prime, limited to an odd shoot-out or a grenade throw in urban areas or an encounter in the hinterland. But this decreased physical footprint of the violence has hardly detracted from its larger psychological presence. It lurks in the shadows, ready to spring upon us when we least suspect it. And it does so often, in bewilderingly diverse and resourceful ways: There were thirteen targeted killings of the political workers, attacks on CRPF and ambushes on the army in Srinagar over the past two years and it turned out that the brain behind them was actually a cop, a personal security officer of a Senior Superintendent of Police, who was committed to the separatist ideology.

But sarpanch killings are not only about the existence or absence of militancy. Kashmir, despite the prevailing semblance of normalcy remains, for all practical purposes, an abode of conflict where its troubled history continuously melds with the present. The violence may have declined but it is not over. The sentiment and the environment that produced it haven’t gone anywhere.

It is in this treacherous environment that panchayat members operate. Their election and existence not only signifies an idyllic peace but also the starkest message so far that the Kashmiris at the grassroot level have abandoned the Azadi discourse. But this is not exactly the case, at least to the extent conveyed by the existence of this third tier of democracy. This is what makes them the biggest challenge for the militants: a dense village to village network of the elected grassroots representatives, if left undisturbed, means absolute negation of everything they stand for.

The government, on the other hand, is happy that panchayats are in place. They primarily represent a normal Kashmir. Their democratic worth and the need to protect them come last. They are, therefore, valued for the very purpose that militants hate them. Then, there is the impossibility of securing them from militant attacks. The state’s Panchayat Raj minister, Ali Muhammad Sagar, now says that the government will provide security to whichever panchayat members has a threat perception. But the fact remains that all of them face it.

Panches and Sarpanches are thus haplessly in the middle, a fair game for everyone. There are militants on one side who see their continuance as the mortal threat to separatist movement and government, on the other, which has left them to fend for themselves.

“Army tells us don’t resign and militants pressure us to do so. We don’t know what to do. Meanwhile, one by one, our colleagues are getting killed,” said a sarpanch from Baramulla, refusing to be named.

Author:   is special correspondent with Tehelka magazine.

 

 

Sunday, 29 Jul 2012

Srinagar, July 29: The Bandipora “fake encounter”, in which a local youth Hilal Ahmad Dar was killed, was orchestrated by 27 RR of army in connivance with one of its informers.
The circumstantial and technical evidence to this effect have been collected by police besides the eyewitness accounts about the chronology of the “conspiracy”.

Police has completed its investigation in the case after arresting two persons including an army informer who played a key role in staging the encounter.

A senior police officer said they have solved the case and are have solid evidence in terms of investigation and technical inputs to prove their claim.
Giving details of the case, police said army informer, Muhammed Ramzan Lone alias Rameez, a resident of Aloosa Bandipora, obtained two weapons from Army in the month of March. “Later, Ramzan handed over the weapons to Hilal as he lured him to join militancy after seeing his inclination.”
According to police, Ramzan asked Hilal to recruit one more boy who would be helpful to receive group of foreign militants in near future.
Later, Hilal contacted one Nazir Ahmad Bhat who happens to be a former militant. “He somehow convinced Nazir to become a militant.”
Hilal was known to Ramzan since childhood as both were brought up in the same locality.
“On the intervening night of July 24 and 25,” official said, “Hilal accompanied by Nazir went to nearby Halmathpora forests in Aloosa Bandipora to receive the so-called group of militants as told by Ramzan.
“Ramzan was in touch with Hilal and Army. The call detail analysis of their cell phones clearly proves that.”
Instead of finding the militants, Hilal and Nazir were face to face with an army contingent which had laid ambush in the forest.
“The army turned on search lights and opened indiscriminate fire at them. Hilal got killed on spot while Nazir managed to escape.”
The official said police has also traced Nazir. “A weapon has been recovered from him as well. Ramzan, the army informer who lured him and Hilal, is also behind bars.”
“The whole drama was orchestrated by 27 RR and Ramzan. Police has collected all circumstantial and technical evidence besides eyewitness accounts of the chronology of this conspiracy.”
DIG North Kashmir could not be reached for his comment on the issue as he did not respond to repeated phone calls.