By M Haziq
SRINAGAR: A week after militant commander Burhan Wani was killed, Bashir Ahmad Dar, a milkman from Chadoora village in Budgam district, travelled to curfewed uptown Srinagar in his load-carrier to deliver milk to his customers.
The paramilitary forces, which had let him go the previous day after brief questioning, stopped him, again, he said.
“Without asking me anything, they took a can of milk from my vehicle and asked me to return. They didn’t pay me anything,” he said.
The same day, Dar said he was stopped again near Rambagh.
“They were not thirsty for milk; they just asked me to return,” he said. “When I tried to explain that I needed to deliver milk to my customers, they hit my vehicle with batons. I turned scared, and left.”
That was not the end of the things, Dar said.
“A little ahead, a paramilitary personal stopped me again. He dragged a can of milk out of the vehicle, and his associate opened its lid to ensure that the milk was spilled onto the ground,” he said.
Dar, who has been supplying milk to parts of uptown Srinagar, described the situation as his “worst experience”.
“I have seen different times and experienced horrible days. But the recent situation is the worst I have witnessed so far,” he said.
Abdul Rahim (name changed), a milkman from Panzan village of Chadoora, who supplies milk to customers in Srinagar, recollected that he got a call from a customer who was in urgent need of milk.
“They are my old customers,” he said. “When I heard their daughter saying on phone that she needed milk because she could not breastfeed her infant, I could not control my emotions. And I promised to reach them with vegetables and milk the next morning.”
Rahim said he left his left very early in the morning carrying milk and a bag full of vegetables.
“The roads were deserted, except a few private vehicles moving around,” he said.
Near Bhagat Chowk, the paramilitary forces being deployed in the area stopped and questioned him.
“Do you organise clashes in your area?” he remembered the forces asking him.
“I told them I was just an ordinary milkman, who needed to deliver milk to his customers.”
The forces responded to his repeated pleas by destroying the vegetables he carried, he said.
“When I told them my customers needed milk for their starving babies, one of them waved his stick at me, and said, ‘They don’t need milk, they need Aazadi’.”