Srinagar: Mushtaq was hoisting a Pakistani flag on a 70-feet-high overhead tank on August 17 in Rangreth when police surrounded him. Fearing arrest, and certain thrashing, he jumped off the tank and fractured his legs.
The dangerous jump has been one of Mushtaq’s many risky acts in pursuit of what he calls the “struggle for freedom”.
He said he had been tortured by government forces in 1992, 1993 and 1994 for his “pro-freedom views.”
He was injured in clashes during the uprisings of 2008 and 2010.
Mushtaq had suffered pellet injuries on July 11, four days after the killing of Burhan Wani on July 8, which triggered the raging uprising that entered its 44th day on Sunday. Mushtaq was treated at SMHS Hospital for his pellet injuries.
Days before India’s Independence Day, he had been hoisting Pakistani and Islamic flags on cellular towers and overhead tanks. Soldiers would bring the flags down during the night and hoist the tricolour.
“This went on for five days. I would have hoisted our own flag but unfortunately we don’t have one yet,” he said.
“This is our Kashmir. I can’t stand their flags on our land,” he said.
On the fateful day, the forces conducted a crackdown search operation in Rangreth and lowered the Pakistani flags from towers and tanks and hoisted the Indian flag.
“In their presence I discreetly climbed up the water tank, burned the Indian flag and hoisted Pakistani and Islamic flags. They surrounded me and I jumped. When I hit the ground I couldn’t feel my legs. I crawled on my elbows. Sensing I was seriously injured they let me go. Then some boys helped me and brought me to the hospital,” he said.
He said he has been living in hiding since the uprising began.
The 36-year-old Mushtaq drives auto rickshaws and load carriers for a living. He is married and has a four-year-old daughter.
“I can sacrifice my life for liberation of Kashmir. My heart and soul beats for Kashmir,” he said.