Riyaz ul Khaliq / Mushtaq Ahmad
SRINAGAR/Baramulla: The two policemen who were reportedly beaten by army soldiers in Kupwara district on Friday, had protested against the manhandling and humiliation of three brothers who were returning home from their shop, one of whom was slapped by an army soldier and another punched in his face by a man from the SOG of JK Police, the brothers told Kashmir Reader.
Although the Kupwara police chief has denied that his men were beaten by army soldiers, one of the two policemen who were beaten told Kashmir Reader that army soldiers “misbehaved” with him and there was a “minor scuffle” between some policemen and army soldiers. Sources in the sub-district hospital Kupwara also said that a policeman who was beaten by “someone” was brought to the hospital on Friday night and was admitted there for some time.
The three brothers whose harassment led to this situation narrated to Kashmir Reader the sequence of events that started at an army checkpoint (naka) at Kupwara bridge near Raj Palace Hotel. At about 8:30pm on Friday, Meraj ud Din and his two elder brothers closed their sale and service shop of computers at Regipora Chowk Kupwara to leave for home. “There was a naka laid by the army and police at Kupwara bridge near Raj Palace hotel,” Meraj ud Din told Kashmir Reader. “My two brothers Muhammad Shafi and Sohail Ahmad were sitting on the front seats of Santro car (JK09A 2965) when soldiers of army’s 41 RR signalled us to stop. Shafi dimmed the front lights and one army man came rushing at us. He asked us to switch off the lights and suddenly he started abusing.” The three brothers live at Mughal Pora, which is about 4km from their shop.
Shafi and Sohail had gone to see their younger brother at the shop. Their eldest brother was in New Delhi for the treatment of his ailing son. “Shafi asked the army man to not abuse, which angered him and he asked all of us to get down from the car,” Meraj said. “The army man snatched the keys of the car and slapped my brother twice. We pleaded with the army men – as several others came forward – to let us go.”
“While we were seeking the keys, an SOG (special operations group of the police) man came rushing from the other side and punched me several times. One of the punches hit my nose and I bled profusely,” Meraj said.
“We fled from the spot and went to the nearby police chowki, where we filed a report with the cops. The policemen instantly took me to district hospital Kupwara and had me treated there,” Meraj said. Sohail said he left the Santro car at the spot where the naka had been established. “We saved ourselves by going in the chowki,” he said. Meraj said that the keys of his shop had fallen from his hands when he was being beaten by the SOG man. “When I reached the chowki, I noticed that the keys were missing. The cops told us they would get the car as well as the keys.”
The trio reached the police chowki at about 9pm. The brothers spent half the night in the chowki. The policemen got back the car and the keys from the army men at about 2am.
“One of our friends, who lives in rented accommodation in main Kupwara town, got us food. The police sent us out with him,” Sohail said. “We left the car with the police.”
Meraj said that he had faced such a situation for the first time. Reports from Kupwara on Friday night said that army soldiers beat up two policemen, the chowki officer where the brothers had taken shelter, and the munshi (record keeper) of the police chowki. These policemen were reportedly beaten when they went to the naka to retrieve the brothers’ car and had an argument with the army soldiers on why they had stopped the car and abused the brothers.
Senior Superintendent of Police, Kupwara, Shamsher Hussain has denied that any policeman was beaten up by army soldiers in his district. Reports, however, said that soldiers of 41 RR beat Shabir Ahmad, the munshi at police chowki Kupwara, after he asked why the three brothers were stopped, humiliated and beaten.
The soldiers were reportedly headed by an officer of the rank of major. The soldiers reportedly loaded their guns and aimed them at the munshi, but the chowki officer, Tariq Ahmad, intervened in the matter, “The angry soldiers beat up the officer, too. Both of them were taken to hospital where the munshi was admitted for some time,” sources said. “Soon, senior officers of the police and army reached the spot to defuse the situation.” Talking to Kashmir Reader, Tariq Ahmad confirmed that there was “some minor scuffle” between the army soldiers and police, but said “the issue was later solved”.
“Yes, the incident took place Friday evening when army men were checking passenger vehicles and we told them to not harass the passengers as it was late (in the day). But they manhandled our munshi,” Ahmad said.
He, however, said, “It was not a big issue.”
“They (army soldiers) also misbehaved with me,” he said. Meanwhile, sources in sub-district hospital Kupwara confirmed that a policeman was brought to the hospital and he had been “beaten by someone”. He was discharged after some time. SSP Kupwara Shamsher Hussain did not respond to calls from this newspaper.
Srinagar-based army spokesperson Colonel Rajesh Kalia could not be reached on his mobile phone.