Srinagar: Army on Sunday allegedly tried to detain a minor boy in south Kashmir’s Verinag area after his family failed to submit photographs and personal details as sought by an officer on Saturday.
Major Kuljeet of army’s 9 Rashtriya Rifles along with half a dozen soldiers in a Sumo vehicle appeared at the house of Peer Mohammad Abbas in Peer Mohalla of Batagund village of Verinag and tried to detain his 10-year-old son Peer Bilal Ahmad, the family told Kashmir Reader.
The army officer, they said, was angry because the family couldn’t provide him pictures and other details of the members, including men, women and children as sought by him during his last visit on Saturday. The officer was also ‘furious’ for revealing to the media the harassment caused to them by various agencies.
“The army officer reprimanded me for approaching the media. He said he’ll visit out house again and take me to the Dooru camp. Besides threatening to put chilies in my private parts, he also served me life threats,” Ahmad, a Class 5 student at a private school, told Kashmir Reader.
The army officer, he said, released him after repeated pleas of his mother and grandfather. His father Peer Mohammad Abbas, he said, had gone for daily work when the army team came to his house.
“The officer also enquired about my uncle Firdous. He told me to send my uncle to his camp. Army has been visiting our house but today they were in angry mood,” he added.
Many newspapers, including Kashmir Reader, had reported last week that cops in civvies barge into the house of the Peers frequently, disguising as militants.
“Sometimes the cops barge into our house pretending to be militants. And sometimes, they threaten to kill us in a fake encounter. It seems the agencies don’t want us to lead a peaceful life,” Firdous, the youngest son of Peers, who was flanked by elderly father, wife, sister, and sister-in-law had told Kashmir Reader on Tuesday last.
The Peer family has suffered hugely in the past two decades of conflict. The older son of the family, Peer Farooq, joined militant ranks. He was killed in a gunfight in January 2000, four years after remaining active in south Kashmir. Another son Mohammad Ashraf, who is currently serving detention under the PSA, is facing charges of hurling a grenade in Kapran area. The youngest son, Peer Firdous, who runs a poultry farm in his native village, has also served two-year detention under the PSA. The family head Peer Ghulam Nabi is a prominent figure in the area and has remained Imam-e-Jamia for decades.
Expressing concern over the daily harassment of her family, Ahmad’s mother Suraya Jaan said that she was deeply perturbed over today’s events. She said more than anything else, she was worried about the safety of her minor son.
“We’re thinking to desert our house and leave towards some safer place. We can’t take this humiliation and harassment anymore. We want to live in peace. And army doesn’t want so,” she added.
Her husband Abbas, who works as a labourer to fend his family said that an army officer repeatedly rings him up and asks him to submit the pictures and details of all his family members irrespective of age and gender at the earliest.
“Our lives have been made miserable. The officer calls me off and on and seeks pictures and other personal details. I don’t understand why they need these details. Why are we subjected to harassment without any reason or rhyme?” said Abbas.
When Kashmir Reader called the officer accused by the family of harassing them, he feigned ignorance about making calls to them. He also denied allegations of harassment.
“We didn’t visit the village or detain any boy. It’s the job of police. Why would we do so? We’re meant for the protection of people,” the officer said.
Meanwhile, army’s Srinagar-based spokesman, Col N N Joshi told Kashmir Reader that he will verify the facts before commenting on the issue. However, he assured prompt action in case any officer is found involved in harassment of the family.
“This is very strange. Let me first find out the facts. In case, something like this has happened, we’ll take action as per our rules and regulations,” he added.