NADIHAL, BARAMULLA: Seventy kilometres from Srinagar city, Nadihal village in north Kashmir looks irresistible to eyes with its beautiful sun-soaked mountains and golden rice fields. This charm, however, is overshadowed by the presence of hundreds of soldiers alongside its border. The people of Nadihal have alleged that these soldiers have killed a number of the village’s inhabitants and tortured scores of others since 1989.
Three months into Kashmir’s post-Burhan uprising, two young boys – Danish, aged 17, and Waseem, aged 22 – have been killed in this village by government troops. “No investigation was ordered into their killings by the government,” said Nazir Ahmad Lone, father of the slain Waseem. “They have every right to kill us, but we don’t have any right to protest against their brutalities?” Nazir asked.
The villagers say troops have been ransacking their homes in the middle of the night in these past three months of the uprising. Khazir Mohammd Lone, a resident of Nadihal village, said that women and children live in constant terror of the troops who have physically molested them inside their homes. “We feel unsafe at our homes,” said Khazir Mohammad. “When the night falls, it brings nightmares. We are concerned about the safety and security of our children.” Nazir Ahmad Lone, a victim of torture himself at the hands of government troops, said that in 1992 he was detained by the army and held in the Gunju House army camp in Sopore for months, “without any reason and tortured brutally”. The torture marks are still there on his hands, feet and legs.
“When I was released, I joined an armed militant group,” he said. “I couldn’t bear their harassment each day. I couldn’t fight them as a civilian. They made me a rebel.”
He said that after coming back from a training camp in Pakistan in 1994, he was captured in 1995. He was sent to a torture camp again and later spent five years in jail.
During the 2008 uprising, he said he was again detained and he spent one month in jail. “They were mentally abusing me,” he said. “One agency was setting me free, and then other agency was taking me away.” In the 2010 uprising, when intelligence agencies came to detain him again in the night, his son and daughter tried to resist the troops. Nazir said the troops vandalised his home and assaulted Waseem and Nageena, his son and daughter. “After so many years, she is still being treated for those injuries,” Nazir said.
He spent another few months in jail.
Nazir said that whenever there was a social gathering at his home, troops would attack his home, beating guests and throwing the food away. “When my grandmother died, they didn’t allow us to mourn peacefully,” he said.
For the past four years, Nazir has been asked to appear at the police station twice a week for questioning. “I have spent most of my time in jail. My family was raised by relatives. One of my sons, Rameez, was forced to leave his studies due to this abnormal situation,” he said. After the killing of his son Waseem, Nazir has two sons and two daughters left. His wife, Lateefa Begum, says she has no memory of having seen good days in her life. “Now they took my son away,” she said. “What is there for us to live for? Our only hope was destroyed by them.”
Waseem was the sole earner in his family. He drove a tractor and had borne the expenses of the marriage of his eldest sister.