SRINAGAR: More than a week has passed since the army went on a rampage and shot dead a postgraduate youth and inured eight others in Larkipora rea of Anantnag district. Ghulam Nabi witnessed the scene and says that he still cannot believe that he is alive.
A pharmacist by profession, Ghulam had just opened his shop in the main chowk Larkipora when three army vehicles came and stopped in the middle of the road in front of his shop. Soldiers jumped out of their vehicles carrying sticks and rods in their hands. “I first thought they needed some medicine. But they straightaway rushed to a health department official who was waiting for the ambulance and thrashed him,” Ghulam Nabi told Kashmir Reader.
The army men then organised themselves in groups and started ransacking residential buildings, shops, whatever came their way. “They even tried to break into the shops by breaking their locks. They succeeded in breaking into a bakery shop where they damaged items worth Rs 8 lakh,” he said.
The army troopers, Ghulam said, surrounded the Jamia Masjid and started smashing its windows. “As they were breaking the window panes of the masjid, some youth from a street behind my shop appeared, shouting and warning the soldiers against causing damage to the mosque,” Ghulam said.
“Kutton, jo karna hai karo, hamare gharon ko jalao magar masjid ko hath mat lagao (Dogs, do whatever you want, burn our houses but don’t touch the mosque),” one of the youths shouted at the soldiers, Ghulam said.
The soldiers went on damaging the mosque. The youth made an announcement on loudspeaker for people to come out and started throwing stones at the soldiers.
“The youth who were shouting at them from a lane rushed to the shops and started attacking the army men with stones. The soldiers opened fire, directly at the youth as well as in the air. They took position outside my shop. As they started firing I decided to run from the shop. But as soon as I went out, the army men pounced on me and beat me ruthlessly,” Ghulam said.
“After thrashing me with sticks and gun butts, the army men used me as a shield against the stone-throwing youth,” Ghulam said. “One of the army troopers asked his fellow to shoot me in the leg. As the army man aimed his gun at my leg, I began to beg before him to spare me. Just at this time, a youth hurled a stone at the soldier’s head and I quickly ran away. While I was running away, another army man fired two bullets at me, but both hit the sleeves of my shalwar.”
“I only know that I ran from the spot. After three hours I found myself in Anantnag hospital with a fractured leg and an injury on my cheek, sustained in the thrashing,” Ghulam said.
“They had come with an intention to provoke the people to come on roads and then kill them,” Ghulam said. Another villager, wishing to be not named, said that the army caught two youth who were coming from a nearby village and made them remove all their clothes before thrashing them.
“They kept them naked for ten minutes,” he said.
Many houses were completely damaged, so much that they have become unfit to live in.
“They damaged the house of a poor widow so badly that she and her young daughters left the house the same evening. Now the villagers have covered the windows of their house with polythene and tarpaulin,” the villager said.