SRINAGAR: On August 5 at 7am, policemen in Semthan, Bijbehara, in south Kashmir called on loudspeakers for men to come out of their homes and assemble near the mosque. The men followed the order and came out of their homes. The women and children stayed back, some of them so scared that they went to neighbours for refuge.
“No one knew why men were asked to assemble at one place. We thought it was a crackdown,” said residents.
Reenu, aged 24, was worried for her husband and father-in-law who had gone out. A few women from the neighbourhood came to her home with their children from fear of the policemen.
Reenu has one son, eight years old. He was in the kitchen with his grandmother and three neighbour women and she herself was in the washroom when the Station House Officer accompanied by armed police forcibly entered their house, breaking the front door. “I ran towards the kitchen and screamed ‘Police! Police!’ I could see hatred in their eyes and intentions to kill. My mind stopped working. I thought we would all die,” she said.
Her worst fears came true. Reenu was shot at by a pellet gun from close range by the SHO himself. The three neighbour women and her mother-in-law were physically assaulted by the policemen.
“The SHO himself was leading the raid and he shot me in the back from close range with a pellet gun. When I fell down in a state of shock, they entered the kitchen, smashed windows, and beat up the women and children,” Reenu said.
When men heard that police had entered their houses and had shot at women, Showkat Ahmad, a relative of Reenu, rushed to her house to help. “But they shot him in his back. The bullet ripped through his shoulder and he fell down,” mother-in-law of Reenu said.
Residents said that in the early-morning crackdown, four women and three men were shot with pellets and bullets.
Reenu is admitted at SMHS hospital in ward 16 and is being treated for the past fifteen days for pellet injuries in her back. There is a big hole in her back and doctors said it was healing slowly.
Her son can be seen playing on the bed beside her. She is in unbearable pain, which she hides from her son. “He will cry if he sees me in pain,” she said.
Residents further said that the SHO Bijbhera had spread a reign of terror in Semthan and adjoining areas. Police teams led by him were raiding homes during night and arresting youth and beating women.
On August 6, Nisar Ahmad, a BA first-year student, was shot by forces in Cowdara, downtown Srinagar. He was caught by forces after he fell down in a chase and was shot by a pellet gun in his leg.
He said, “After evening prayers, forces came to the area and people scattered in different directions. I, too, started to run for safety. When we saw that the forces had fallen back, I ran towards my home. In this rush, I fell down. They picked me up and shot me in the leg.”
Nisar said he was dragged for a few feet, then pounded by bricks and sticks on his head. “My head and leg was oozing with blood, and they were constantly beating and kicking me. I was pleading with them to leave me,” he said.
At last he was handed to JK Police. “Police thought I was dead and were terrified. They left me there and went away.”
After a few minutes, Nisar regained consciousness and started to crawl to seek help. “When they saw me moving, security forces again pounded me with sticks and kicks.”
Finally, he was let go, whereupon he called for help. The people who were protesting on the other side of the road came to help him. Nisar said that while he was being taken in a car to hospital, CRPF pelted stones at the car.
Nisar has gone through two operations and his leg is still in unbearable pain.