As the fathers lower the coffins of their militant sons, somewhere in Kashmir valley, another son bids farewell to his family to pick up arms. The continuous cycle of such events has kept the new age militancy in Kashmir growing and intensifying. But soon the weight of the gun on son’s shoulder ends up being too heavy for the family; government forces’ find the trails leading to such households, and with the fall of the night, they spread the destruction in vengeance.
In the past few months there has been a series of events where, according to the family members of the militants, the government forces have ransacked and vandalized their private properties. Though, the forces escaping the liability have refused to confess any such activities. While the Jammu and Kashmir Police have often failed in initiating any investigation either into such incidents.
In past weeks, the house of Syed Naveed Mushtaq, a Kashmiri policeman turned militant, who joined in early 2017, has been ransacked by the government forces several times. In August, Mushtaq’s family told media that the government forces set their house on fire, damaging household item, and one room completely burnt.
Mushtaq, 30, also known as Naveed Babu, is a resident of Nazneenpora of Shopian, south Kashmir. He had joined J-K police in 2012 and was serving as a police constable before joining militants. He decamped with four weapons.
Mushtaq’s family said that the forces often vandalize their house during the late night. Past Wednesday, on 31 October, was the latest when such incident happened.
Like prior cases, the Indian Army has denied the allegations of ransacking the house this time as well. As per locals, Mushtaq came home after the news got around that the forces had ransacked his family’s new house.
As the families live on edge after their sons join militant ranks, the government forces add more to the miseries by vandalizing the residential properties. But in-between the noise of crossfire, who is to held responsible for the sufferings of the leftover families, who often confess of losing all contacts with the militants.
Another such case from Awantipora area of Pulwama district came across in January this year. The government forces ransacked the residential properties of civilians and thrashed the youth of the area during a cordon and search operation (CASO). The police officials, however, denied the happening of any such incident and promised the investigation in the case.
In Shopian, a highly sensitive area of south Kashmir, the government forces ransacked over twenty houses in Sugan area after an IED blast by militants on an army vehicle in the area nearby that left three soldiers injured. The area is also the native village of the militant commander, Zeenat-ul-Islam, who recently shifted from Hizbul Mujahideen to Al Badr.
Zeenat’s house was also ransacked that day. Locals are now more worried about the safety of their own property. Top Hizbul Mujahideen Commander Riyaz Naikoo’s family also suffered similar issues and his father was taken into custody. This led to the controversial brawl between the militants and policemen’s kin, leading to the kidnapping of more than a dozen members of policemen. Later all captives were released unharmed after the forces freed Naikoo’s family.
This issue is not new in conflict-torn Kashmir valley. The families of militants have always been used up as an insulator to the heating vengeance of the government forces. As late Burhan Wani’s father, Muzzafar Wani, puts it: “When a young boy picks up arms in Kashmir, the family fights a parallel battle as well. It has always been like this. It is always a fight between the army and the families of militants. They were searching for my son, Burhan, but when they couldn’t find him, they would fight us.”
However, the people in Kashmir has shown strong opposition to the involvement of families into the ongoing conflict. People opine whether it is the family of the policeman or a militant both should leave them aside. It has to be seen whether the government will take any strong steps to stop such incidents of people’s rights violation.