Around 30 troopers beat me till I lost consciousness, says father of Hizb militant Saddam Padder
Srinagar: Scores of civilians were injured and many shifted to local health centres for treatment, when the armed forces allegedly roughed up villagers and fired tear gas shells in Heff-Shirmal area of Shopian district in Kashmir.
The area witnessed a massive cordon and search operation, which started early morning, and ended without any contact with the militants.
“It was around 3 in the night that Heff-Shirmal village were cordoned by the army, SOG men from J&K police, and CRPF troopers,” said Muhammad Amin, who insisted that his real name should not be used due to security reasons.
“And when people left homes for Fajr namaz (pre-dawn prayers), we were surprised.”
Muhammad Yousuf, who in his forties, said that two of his family members were arrested from their home. “One of the two had to appear in his 2nd year examination today (Wednesday) and another one is not mentally well,” Yousuf told FreePress Kashmir over the phone.
Identified as Khushaal Amin (20), a college going student and Mehraj Ahmad (25), they live in Ganai Mohalla, Heff.
“Khushaal was released when we told the police that he was scheduled to appear in the examination today,” he said, “Mehraj was released in the evening.”
Yousuf informed that as the news about army cordon spread in the area, people woke up earlier than their routine time.
“Everybody was out from their beds,” he said referring to the fear caused.
Gh Mohi ud Din Padder, who is in his fifties, said that he and five other persons from New Colony Heff were stopped and paraded just outside a local Mosque.
“We had just finished Fajr namaz when we found the army men waiting outside,” Din told FreePress Kashmir over the phone.
“After identification,” he said while writhing in pain, “we were directed to rush towards our respective homes.”
One of Din’s sons, Saddam Padder, had joined the militant ranks some time ago.
Saddam, an active Hizb ul Mujahideen militant from Shopian, is the eldest child of Din. He had passed his matriculation examination before joining the militant ranks.
Din said that when the SOG personnel entered his courtyard, his daughter had an argument with them.
“When I reached home, an SOG trooper entered our courtyard and had an argument with my daughter.” Din is a father of four.
“It was around 3 in the night that Heff-Shirmal village were cordoned by the army, SOG men from J&K police and CRPF troopers”
He added, “my daughter reacted sharply to the cop’s comment which angered him and he tried to hit her with his stick but I rushed to save my daughter.”
Din asked them to leave but according to him, thirty more personnel entered his home and thrashed him till he lost consciousness.
“I asked the police men to leave as they were harassing my family,” he added, “but all of a sudden some thirty army and police men came and started beating me before I fainted and I don’t know what happened thereafter.”
He further added, “even (wild) animals are not handed such treatment like what was done to me and my family this morning.”
Not only Din, but three more of his family members were beaten. “My brother Abdul Rashid suffered a head injury while his wife Zaiba Bano has received an ear injury,” he said after returning from a hospital in nearby Bijbehara area of Anantnag district.
“We were rushed to the hospital by our neighbours,” Din informed.
He alleged that two of his cell phones and a battery which cost Rs 1000 was also taken by the forces.
Expressing resentment over the actions of the men in the uniform, he said, “by indulging in such behaviour, they (troopers) are forcing us to take extreme steps.”
“We have been harassed so much now that I too want to pick up arms,” Din told FreePress Kashmir.
When FreePress Kashmir contacted a top cop of J&K, Dr Shesh Paul Vaid for a reaction over the allegations made by Saddam’s family, he replied, “no comments. Thank you.”
“A joint operation planned by army, police and CRPF ended according to the plan charted out a day before in Heff-Shirmal area of Shopian district”
It may be recalled here that J&K Police had asked the militants in Kashmir not to target the families of cops. It was in reaction to an incident reported in March this year that some militants had sneaked in to the home of a police officer in Shopian and harassed his family.
“Don’t involve families in to it,” Dr Paul had asked the militants, “it is between us.”
Media reports quoting local populace said that at least sixty civilians were thrashed in the area during the search operation of whom at least thirty were injured. The victims included civilians of both genders.
Shopian, situated 50 km away from the summer capital of Kashmir, is considered as a highly sensitive zone by the security establishment, along with Pulwama district “because of the active militant activities”.
The local legislator representing ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Advocate Aijaz Ahmad Mir, told the FressPress Kashmir, “I am aware of the situation (in Heff-Shirmal) and I even directed the police to deal with the situation patiently.”
“Honourable Chief Minister has directed the forces to exercise maximum restraint (when dealing with such situations) and such steps need to be taken,” he said.
Terming the search operation as “successful”, the J&K Police spokesperson had told FreePress Kashmir earlier this morning that the operation was “jointly planned yesterday”. “A joint operation planned by the army, police and CRPF ended according to the plan charted out a day before in Heff-Shirmal area of Shopian district.”
“After inputs about the presence of militants, the forces launched the search operation but there was some stone pelting which was taken care of and the plan (CASO) went smoothly,” he said.
“Honourable Chief Minister has directed forces to exercise maximum restraint (when dealing with such situations) and such steps need to be taken”
Srinagar based Defence Spokesperson, Colonel Rajesh Kalia, promised to contact FreePress Kashmir with details. However, when this story was published, Col Kalia was yet to respond.
Marouf Gazi contributed to this story.