Kashmir Tragedy: Security Forces Raze Entire Moholla in Pursuit of Two Militants
Ishfaq-ul-Hassan | India Tomorrow
SRINAGAR, MAY 21— A 12-year-old-boy frantically crying while watching his house in flames has become a defining image of the Kashmir tragedy.
Musaib Nazir, a sixth standard student, is among the scores of people who have been rendered homeless after security forces razed over 15 houses at the congested locality of Kani Mazar in old Srinagar city in pursuit of two Hizbul Mujahedeen militants on Tuesday.
One of the militants was identified as Junaid Ashraf Sahrai, an MBA who left his cushy job to join Hizbul Mujahedeen in 2018. Son of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat chief Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai, Junaid was the divisional commander of Hizbul for Central Kashmir. Another slain militant was identified as Tariq Ahmad Sheikh. Sehrai led the `Gaybana Jinaza’ (funeral prayers in absentia) of his son and his associate since the authorities did not hand over their bodies to family members.
It were the heartbreaking images of 12-year-old Musaib in a t-shirt with tears rolling down his cheeks that summed up the tragedy after the encounter. A bustling locality was reduced to rubble in just 12 hours. More than 15 families do not have a second set of clothes to wear.
Sample this: Sitting on the smoldering rubble, Bashir Ahmad sobs quietly while flipping through the half-burnt currency notes. An elderly tailor master had saved Rs 1.3 lakh for his daughter’s wedding. Digging through the rubble of charred boxes and kitchen sets, Bashir is frantically shuttling from one place to another which once was his well laid out rooms.
“We had saved Rs 1.3 lakh for my sister’s wedding. There was also some jewelry. We had put everything in a steel box. Everything has been lost,” said Adil Bashir, son of Bashir Ahmad, flashing half-burnt currency notes.
Bashir Ahmad is not an isolated case. Smoldering ruins, half-burnt school books, charred kitchen sets and scattered rice is all that has been left at once bustling mohalla. Wailing women, sobbing children, and inconsolable boys present a war-torn look.
Posha, in her thirties, was eagerly waiting for the lockdown to end so that she could reconstruct the house. The homemaker had kept Rs 15 lakh in a safe locker at her house when the encounter broke out.
“We were asked to vacate houses without giving us a chance to take even a second set of clothes. All my savings was in the locker. When I came back, everything was lost,” she said.
Such is the tragedy that the people had to spend a night in a government marriage hall. “We have started crowdfunding so that the houses could be rebuilt,” said Abdul Rehman Dar, President, Intizamia Committee Masjid Hanfia, Kani Mazar.
Human rights groups have claimed that indiscriminate and disproportionate force was used by the security forces during the encounter.
“This isn't the first time that armed forces have used disproportionate and indiscriminate force. Since 1947 Kashmiris have witnessed large scale state violence which led to widespread loss of lives and destruction of properties. Like the entire Batamaloo locality, many villages in Beerwah, Mawar in Langate were burnt down in 1965. Then in recent times memories of how entire Sopore, Charar-e-Sharief, and Handwara towns were burnt down and many people massacred are still fresh. The priority of the state is control at any cost, let human rights be damned,” Khurram Parvez, programme coordinator, J&K Coalition of Civil Society, posted on Facebook.
Director General of Police, Jammu and Kashmir, Dilbag Singh said the operation was clean and only one residential house caught fire which was controlled immediately. “The first thing we died in the morning was to evacuate the inmates. In that process two force personnel suffered injuries”, he said.