Srinagar: While documenting the narratives of human rights abuses by various state agencies, a rights group has come across the story of a woman, Shameema, who was tortured along with her husband when she was seven months pregnant. Her torturer had given her Rs 100 after realising that her condition worsened in custody.
Shameema’s ordeal began when the dreaded Special Operations Group of police and BSF troopers raided her house in Wara Sangrama, Budgam, in November 1998. Mushtaq Pal, a notorious gunman of a government-sponsored militia, Ikhwan, had informed the forces that Shameema and her husband Ashraf were sheltering militants in their home and hiding arms and ammunition, the victim says in the 804-page report prepared by the International Peoples Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian Administered Kashmir (IPTK) and The Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP).
“Besides the couple, their children Irshad and Rehana were also at the house when the raiding teams came to the village. Ashraf’s brothers too were there. However, on seeing the government forces closing in, all of them ran and took shelter in a neighbour’s house,” says the report.
While all of them escaped, Ashraf’s brother, who has not been named in the report, was caught by the police and taken to the infamous Humhama camp of the SOG.
Abdul Aziz, a close relative and a police officer tried to intervene to secure the release of the detainee. However, he was told that unless Ashraf and his wife turn up at the camp, the detainee will not be released.
“Next day Ashraf and his wife went to the camp along with Aziz. On arrival, officer Gupta asked his men to take the couple to the interrogation room. Both of them were hung upside down,” the report says.
It says the couple was asked by the SOG personnel to reveal where they were hiding the arms and ammunitions. However, both of them pleaded innocence.
“Three woman cops, one of them named Rani Khalida, gave them electric shocks every four to five hours. Shameema pleaded before the cops that she was seven months pregnant but no one heard her pleas. She was beaten up with sticks on stomach, arms and legs,” says the report.
Unable to extract confession from the couple, the police shifted Ashraf to the lockup in the evening and left Shameema in the custody of the woman cops.
“The condition of Shameema deteriorated after the beating. The women cops informed their seniors including Gupta and Ashiq Bukhari (former senior superintendent of police) about it. The two officers ordered their release. Gupta offered a Rs 100 note to the victim for treatment,” reads the report.
The couple was not dropped home. Instead, the cops took them out of the camp and tried to stop a few vehicles that passed by. After several attempts, a truck stopped and dropped them home.
Shameema visited the nearby hospital next morning for a check-up. However, the doctors asked her to visit Lal Ded, the most-visited maternity hospital of the Valley. On the fourth day at hospital, doctors aborted the foetus, the report said.
It says that the torture rendered the couple jobless prompting their son Irshad to give up studies and to earn a living for family and support sister’s education.
The report says that the incident had triggered protests against the police and the protesters had staged a demonstration outside the Deputy Commissioner’s office seeking justice for the woman.
Officers Gupta and Rani Khalida have been identified as alleged perpetrators in Shameema’s case, which has been listed at number 25 in the “torture section”. However, it says that Ashiq Bukhari’s role is less certain and has not been adequately fleshed out in the testimony.