SOPORE: A resident of Sho village in Sopore has said that soldiers of the army’s 22 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) killed his friend Mansoor Ahmad Lone, a resident of Sho village, on the day of Eid-ul-Azha (September 13) inside the army’s 22 RR camp located in the nearby village of Pazalpora.
Ramzan (name changed), said he witnessed the soldiers killing his friend at the army camp on Tuesday, the day of Eid-ul-Azha. He said that the army targeted Mansoor Ahmad Lone because he led anti-India protests in the area and played Azadi songs from the mosque loudspeakers.
Mansoor Ahmad’s body was found under a heap of stones in a stone quarry on Wednesday, the day after Eid-ul-Azha. Mansoor was 26 years old.
The “notorious 22 RR camp”, as locals call it, is situated on the banks of a canal that divides Pazalpora village from the camp. Sho village is few miles to its west.
People of Sho village said that they lived in an atmosphere of perpetual dread of the army camp.
Ramzan lives in Pazalpora village and says it is easy to cross the canal and see what is happening inside the camp because it is not fenced properly.
On the day of Eid, he said, Mansoor joined a protest march in the village which came under heavy tear gas shelling by the 22 RR soldiers.
Naseer, a resident of Sho village, said he, too, was part of the protest march and that the army had cordoned Sho village before the Eid prayers. He said the soldiers wanted to provoke people so that they could punish them for dishonouring India.
A few boys of Sho village said that they saw army men chasing Mansoor and catching hold of him in the stone quarries.
Zahoor (name changed), a resident of Sho village, said that Mansoor was singled out because he was a well-known protester during this uprising.
“He was not armed. His only weapon was his overwhelming wish to see Kashmir free from India,” Zahoor said.
In the afternoon, Mansoor’s father, who suffers from blood cancer, went out with relatives to search for the missing Mansoor. The search party y saw blood-smeared stones in the stone quarry fields.
“I knew it was my son,” Mansoor’s father said in forlorn voice.
“We decided to look for his body in hospitals and police stations,” said Naseer Ahmad, uncle of Mansoor. “But we returned hopeless. Nobody knew where he was. We even told the army that if the boy is dead, we need his body for burial.”
Ramzan said that at 11:30am on Tuesday, he saw three army vehicles hurrying inside the 22RR camp. “It was unusual,” he said.
When Ramzan heard loud cries in Kashmiri coming from the camp, he went to look. “I crept up the wall of the camp. What I saw was unimaginable. For two straight hours four army men went on beating Mansoor with steel rods, stones and their fists,” he said.
Ramzan said that Mansoor was vigorously calling out ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ amid the beatings and the army men were asking him to shout ‘India Zindabad’.
“His tenacity enraged the army men. They finally killed him at about 3:30pm by hammering his head,” Ramzan said.
At 4pm, an army man came to the house of Ramzan and asked him for a shirt. “I gave him a blue-colour shirt,” Ramzan said.
Next morning, Mansoor’s body was found in the stone quarry field. He was clad in the same blue shirt.
His father said that when Mansoor went out of home for Eid prayers he was wearing a shirt with red and green stripes. “But we found his body in a blue shirt,” the father said.
A newspaper, a skull cap, two packets of cigarettes, and 160 rupees were found in his pockets.
Mansoor was born after three sisters. The eldest of the sisters is blind. Two brothers were born after him.
He left studies in 2008 after Class 12 when his father was diagnosed with blood cancer. He found employment in a university geology department as a field worker.
Ishfaq, his younger brother, said that after their father became ill, Mansoor’s life transformed. He would declare, “A good Muslim is one who lives for others.”
His neighbour, Iqbal, said he lived his life for friends, family and helpless villagers.
A day before Eid, he told his friend Zahoor, “Burhan Wani has come in my dream and told me to give milk to people after prayers.”
“He was sorry he couldn’t do it as he had no money to buy milk,” Zahoor said.
People of Sho village said that for the past two months they were impressed by his demeanour as he would speak gallantly on Azadi and was tirelessly working for this cause.
His blind sister, Atiqa, to whom he was the dearest, said, “He was soul and my eyes.”
Farida Begum, his mother, told the women mourners that she had scarified her son on the day of Eid. The army spokesman did not receive the calls made on his number by Kahmir Reader.