Handwara: The seven government employees, who were suspended for either ‘taking part in or instigating protests’ that erupted after the killing of five people in Kupwara district by army and police last month, have said that they are the victims of ‘persecution and retribution’.
Following the alleged molestation of a minor girl at Handwara, the army and police had killed five people, a middle-aged woman among them. The killings triggered statewide outrage, with the chief minister herself saying the “guilty would not be spared”.
However, out of the 30 FIRs filed into these incidents, 28 have been filed against the people, which indicates that the “guilty” are the people. The suspension of these employees, arrest of a boy whom the girl had named as the one who slapped her and search for the protesting youth validate the suspended employees’ complaint that the “government wanted to make a spectacle out us”.
The suspended employees are Abdul Ahad Bhat of Lalpora (night watchman at the Government Higher Secondary School, Lalpora); Farooq Ahmad Bhat of Lalpora (teacher at the Government Boys High School, Dardpora); Hussam-ud-din of Lalpora (peon at the Government Degree College, Sogam); Ghulam Rasool Sheikh of Lalpora (teacher at Government Higher Secondary School, Maidanpora); Idrees Jaan Mir of Dardpora (teacher at Boys Middle School, Kralpora); Ali Mohd Sheikh of Kralpora (teacher at Government Middle School, Dardsun) and Ghulam Mohiuddin Rather of Natnusa (an employee with Mechanical Irrigation & Flood Control, Handwara).
Abdul Ahad Bhat told Kashmir Reader, “I am about to retire from services. Is it possible that I can participate in protests? I am the sole bread earner of my family. How can I encourage other people’s children to throw stones? There was curfew that day and I was in my farms. All the allegations against me are baseless. I am a member of the Auqaf Committee in our locality and I usually play the role of a problem solver.”
Most of the suspended men that Kashmir Reader spoke to were in their late 50s, nearing retirement.
“I have a chronic heart condition. I have been advised not to walk fast, forget about running or taking part in any protest. I was shocked to read the news of my suspension on a WhatsApp group. Before the authorities informed us they told the media about it. Under what rules is this possible? The only aim is to make this appear like they are tough. However the truth is that there is not a shred of truth to it,” said Ghulam Rasool Sheikh.
Idrees Jaan Mir dismissed government charges as a “fantasy” and “baseless”.
“First, there were no protests in our area on that day as they had imposed curfew and schools were closed. For the whole day, I was confined to my home. Let them provide one single evidence that I participated in the protests and I would be the first person to resign. These lies shock me,” he said.
Farooq Ahmad Bhat answered Kashmir Reader query with this question: “What are they trying to prove by resorting to these things?”
The suspended employees had received letters asking them to explain their position. They had replied to the letters promptly and pleaded innocence.
The employees had been suspended on the orders of deputy commissioner Kupwara Rajiv Ranjan, who has been accused by the resistance leadership of having close links with the Indian right.
Lolab sub-divisional magistrate Qazi Irfan, who has been appointed to investigate into the matter, said he will submit the probe report to the government soon.