PULWAMA: In March 2015, when Raqib Ahmad Andrabi, a Hizbul-Mujahideen militant who was killed by the government forces on Saturday, was engaged as a guard in Jammu and Kashmir bank, his family was overjoyed. The joy was short lived because, the family said, the police harassment cost him his job and forced him to pick up gun.
The 22-year-old Raqib had given up his studies after matriculation and started search for a job to help his father to meet the family’s needs.
“Only two months after he got the job, special operations group (SOG) men raided our house evening and asked for him. Since he had gone to Masjid for Isha prayers they asked me to call him. When I brought him home the policemen bundled him in a vehicle despite my stiff resistance,” said Bashir Ahmad Andrabi, Raqib’s father.
Bashir said that he came to know that he had been picked up by SOG only the next day.
“When I met the SOG officials they told me Raqib has militant links. He was released after seven days of detention and interrogation,”
After his release, however, the bank officials asked him to get a ‘police clearance’ certificate and only then he could resume his job.
Bashir said a top police officer had called the bank officials and asked them to let Raqib resume, but they insisted on written clearance certificate.
“After the refusal by the bank officials I approached SSP Pulwama who clearly refused to issue the certificate saying he has militant connections,” Bashir said.
Raqib lost the job and stayed at home.
After a few weeks, the SOG Awantipora raided his home, detained him and released him after three days.
On 10 August last year, the SOG picked up both Raqib and his brother, Aqib.
“When I approached the police officials the next day they told me that I can take one of my sons along. Since Raqib was being detained frequently I pleaded for his release only and took him home,” he said.
Aqib was released five days later.
“As we were coming out of the police station Raqib told me ‘papa wuchtha yeti kota zulum chu’ (Papa do you see the how limitless the oppression is),” Bashir said.
Fed up with the frequent harassment of Raqib, his father said, he approached a police officer and requested him to engage him as a Special Police Officer (a name given to sort of quasi-mercenary personnel appointed in the police force for a nominal pay).
“Though my son had a strong religious bent of mind and was not interested in the job he agreed to join the force to escape harassment. On November 9, I collected his engagement order and on November 10 he was appointed as an SPO,” the father added.
“On the evening of November 11, only a day after his joining Raqib called me and said he will come home today and will leave for duty tomorrow morning again. But little did I know he will come home dead only,” Bashir said.
“My son had no links with militancy but police atrocities forced him to join the militant ranks,” he said.
Thousands attend Raqib’s funeral
Amid a complete shutdown, thousands of people attended Raqib’s funeral in his native village, Zadoora. Pulwama town also remained shut, while protests were held in some areas of the district. In Newa, protesters clashed with the police who resorted to teargas shelling.