Elderly Bandipora man denies joining BJP after picture surfaces

Elderly Bandipora man denies joining BJP after picture surfaces
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Nazir Lone has faced years of harassment and served detention

Bandipora: An elderly man from Badipora district has alleged character assassination and propaganda against him, after a picture of him garlanded with BJP flags surfaced on social media.
In a video message on social media, Nazir Ahmad Lone alias Kar-Maam denied having any affiliation with the party, and said he was “sold” by the people by exploiting his miseries.
Nazir has served years in detention, and harassment from government forces, while his children have also been victims of the conflict.
He runs a shop selling street food and lives with his wife and six children. One of his children was hit with pellets in the eye during 2016 uprising, while another son has an FIR registered for throwing stones and.
Nazir said that six weeks ago he was coming out of a court hearing when some youth asked him to join them in a campaign against corruption and drug abuse.
“The men gathered in a house at the main town in Plan Bandipora. They further told me that men from Delhi are coming to solve ‘all your problems, as you are too old for all these struggles, let’s end them once for all’. I also talked about these things. After that they took pictures after putting garlands around our necks.” Nazir said.
He said that he was shocked to see his pictures on social media some days back, which created a backlash of slurs for him.
“I was in distress and my family was crying after the reactions it generated from public forcing me to go into hiding for some days,” Nazir said.
“I want to ask why this propaganda against me, I feel I am sold; my family is mourning,” Nazir said in a video appeal which also went viral on social media.
Nazir told Kashmir Reader that he went to seek clarification from the man in the picture who is a BJP worker and the organiser of the event. “He tried to motivate me to give in by offering me security and help in solving my case, but I refused and instead asked them to make it public that I didn’t join the party or am affiliated with it in any way,” Nazir said.
Later on, Nazir said, he met went BJP’s district president in Bandipora Sheikh Waseem Bari who gave him “a patient listening and promised redress”.
“I have given statements to CID and police about it too. I also posted my appeal on Facebook for the general public” Nazir said.
Nazir said that he has spent a lifetime under harassment from government forces.
In 2007, Nazir was detained under PSA on accusations of providing assistance to militants with arms at his house. Nazir had to serve almost three years in different jails, including Bandipora, Baramulla and Udhampur. In Udhampur Jail, Lone couldn’t meet anyone from his family for two years given his meager resources.
“It was only after Red Cross helped me to meet with family,” Nazir shared. In 2009, finally, he was cleared by a court and released, but soon after his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, adding to his miseries.
Despite court clearing him, Nazir says, he continued to face harassment at the hands of government forces.
“They didn’t let me live in peace. Whenever something happened in my village, I was questioned or taken into custody despite having no links with any militant or outfit”.
In 2010, Lone abandoned his house and shop and went to live on rent after government forces accused him of having links with a militant, Abuzar.
“I spent a year at Bandipora; after Abuzar was killed I gathered some courage and went back to live in my house”.
But once back, Nazir was shocked to see his home ransacked and blasted by Improvised explosive devices.
“They (forces) told me they found some hide out in there,” Nazir said. He repaired his house and reopened his shop.
In 2016 uprising, his 15-year-old son, Muslim Nazir, a 7th class student, was hit by the pellets in the eye, but “the surgery and help from the NGO’s at Srinagar for his medication helped him recover.”
Before that, another son Mubashir Nazir, an MSc student, who was running a small business to help his father was caught by forces “falsely” for throwing stones.