SHOPIAN: A family in Maldair village in district Shopian has narrated a harrowing atrocity suffered at the hands of government troops on May 4, the day hundreds of army, paramilitary and police troops laid siege to 17 villages in Wachi area of Shopian.
A mother of seven children, Saleema Bano, 60, told Kashmir Reader that about 30 armed men barged into her house and started beating her son and son-in-law. “I and my two daughters tried to save them, but the armed men started beating us, too. They dragged us, including my nine-month pregnant daughter and my 16-year-old younger daughter, to the lobby and kicked my pregnant daughter in her abdomen. They suffocated my younger daughter with her headscarf; the injury marks are still on her neck,” Saleema Bano said.
“We had heard gunshots and noise of shelling and cries of people outside, so we stayed in our home, but the forces entered our house and beat us ruthlessly for 15 minutes. I feared most for my daughters. What had happened to the girls of Shopian (Asiya and Nilofar) came to my mind,” Saleema said.
Saleema added that the troops beat her with gun butts, because of which she is now unable to walk. She showed her bruised and swollen left leg. She said that police arrested her son-in-law, who was later released on May 8.
Rafia Jan, in the ninth month of pregnancy, had tears rolling down her face when she spoke of what she suffered. “When they started beating my brother and brother-in-law with the butts of their guns, I and my younger sister and mother tried to shield them, but they beat us, too. They dragged us and they tried to kill my unborn child. When I saw blood coming out of my husband’s mouth, we cried, but there were troopers in our courtyard who were vandalising our property,” Rafia said. She added that she is now stable but undergoing treatment.
Mudasir, Rafia’s husband, has gone to stay at his grandmother’s home and Saleema’s younger daughter has left for her husband’s home. According to the family, both of them are undergoing treatment for injuries. “They are in traumatic condition. Mudasir is not able to walk and we have fears about the condition of the unborn child of my daughter,” Ghulam Muhammad Mir, head of the family, said.
“I was not at home. When I heard that my family had been attacked, I rushed home. When I entered the house, I saw that everything was damaged. All my family members were lying on the ground and many people had gathered at my home. They were arranging a vehicle to take my family members to hospital. Because all the vehicles in our village had been damaged by the troops, I was not able to do anything except cry,” Ghulam Muhammad said.
Ghulam Muhammad said that he had no hope of justice from the “oppressors”. He said that civilians must help each other in this time of oppression.
When Kashmir Reader contacted Mudasir, he said that he was helpless before the troops who attacked his family. “About 30 troopers were beating me, my sisters, and my mother. I told them to kill me and spare my sisters and mother, but they dragged them and beat them ruthlessly. They tried to kill us all, including two infant children, for whom the troopers didn’t show any mercy,” Mudasir said.
He said that he is not able to walk normally because of his injuries. “I have severe pain in my neck and mouth. I am not able to swallow food, and I feel pain even when drinking water,” Mudasir said.
Neighbours of the family said that they were helpless as there were hundreds of armed men in and outside Ghulam Muhammad’s house. According to them, they tried to come out of their houses but there were many armed men outside their gates who didn’t let them go out. “They were smashing our property and we took refuge in our houses. We heard the cries of our neighbours but we were not able to help them,” said Tariq Ahmed, a neighbour.
Maldair village is located about 14 kilometres from Shopian district headquarters and a kilometre away from Turkwangam Tehsil. Apple and walnut orchards separate it from other villages in the area. Most people in these villages are dependent on fruit growing. Ghulam Muhammad’s home is situated in the centre of Maldair village. The ransacked property of his house is evidence of the excesses committed by the government forces. There are about 150 houses and 800 people living in this village.
A month before this attack, on April 4, government troops while conducting a massive cordon and search operation met with stout resistance from the people of the area. There were daylong clashes between villagers and government troops and several youth were injured and many people were arrested.
On that day, the government troops ransacked about 200 houses, smashed more than 100 parked cars, including school vehicles, and looted shops and household belongings in Turkwangam, Maldair, Heff and Sugan villages.