One family denied body, no FIR registered so far
Ajas: Ghulam Rasool, 81, a resident of Ajas village in Bandipora district, has not forgotten the cold February morning of 1992 when the villagers woke up to the preparations for one of the holiest nights in Islam, – Shab-e-Mehraj (Night of Ascension).
He was 55 years old, and those were the early years of popular armed uprising in Kashmir. The morning prayers followed by supplications reverberated through the entire village, preparing people to welcome the holy night with fervour.
The villagers had hoped for a peaceful day, given the festival, even though crackdowns were a routine those days.
However, as the sun rose, troops of Border Security Force (BSF) arrived in the village and announced a crackdown asking men to assemble in the lawn of the Masjid for an identification parade.
Rasool says, villagers pleaded with them to leave in peace as a mark of respect for the holy day, but the troops refused.
“Many people resisted the BSF call by hurling kangris (fire pots) and shouting slogans, the forces turned hostile and dragged people out of their houses,” Rasool said, seconded by other villagers.
“BSF men dragged us from our houses and huddled us together in Jamia Masjid,” other villagers said.
“Following the identification parade the troopers started to interrogate the youth, as some men tried to raise voice. In between a man tried to hurl a firepot towards troopers. BSF officer in rage turned the barrel of his sub-machine gun towards jam packed people, showering bullets on them”, recalled Rasool.
“It felt like they shot tens of thousands of bullets towards us. Our ears went deaf as we fell on each other. You can still see the marks of those bullets on the walls of the Masjid, the biggest in the village,” said Rasool.
Four people were shot dead which included an 18-year-old student, Muhammad Maqbool Rather. The other killed were Abdul Rashid Ganie, a driver, Abdul Rahim Rather, 32, a labourer, Muhammad Sultan Lone, 40, a labourer.
A fifth victim Wali-Ul-Rehman Khan, an employee, was “killed during torture after the BSF shot four people dead” said Rasool.
“The torture lasted from 6 in the morning till 8 in the night,” Rasool said, who was among the group of people kept in the lawn.
In the crackdown, “the youngest men were picked one after another and taken outside the village, we called it Pari waan. There the troopers tortured them mercilessly, in that torture Wali died, his body was never returned, another two dozen men were injured,” Rasool said.
Another six persons including two women were grievously injured in the firing.
Wali, according to witnesses, was dragged by BSF in injured condition and put in a lorry and declared dead. However, his body was not handed over to his family.
After the incident, an internal enquiry was launched by the BSF.
“A Sikh officer came and took our statements,” Rasool said
Wali’s family lamented that despite the inquiry no FIR is registered in any police station regarding the incident.
Posters about the anniversary commemoration from youth union of Ajas appeared in the village on Wednesday with pictures of the victims. The poster briefly recalled the incident and explained why February 1 is observed as a shutdown.