20-year-old Sameer Ahmad Wani at the SMHS hospital. Photograph by Saide Zahoor Shah for The Kashmir Walla
“We are the continuous victims of violence by army personnel. We are living under constant fear,” said 55-year-old Farooq Ahmad Wani, a resident of Abhama Pulwama, standing outside the emergency ward of SMHS Hospital, Srinagar. His 20-year-old son, Sameer Ahmad was under treatment after allegedly being beaten up by the army inside the garrison.
On 13 March, at around 2 pm, residents of Abhama area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district staged a protest against the sumo drivers for creating hurdles for the locals. While the protest was on the way, a sumo vehicle carrying army personnel made its way on the road. They halted, and came down to enquire the matter.
As per Mr. Wani, seeing army personnel of Rashtriya Rifles (RR) coming down from the vehicle, some locals ran from the spot due to fear. “While a many youth ran, my son didn’t move. They took identity cards of four boys and snatched my son’s mobile phone.”
After the news reached Mr. Wani’s home, anxiety spread among the family members, citing previous similar reports, where army had taken local boys in the garrisons and “smacked them severely.”
But, somehow, Mr. Wani gained some courage and took his son at the army camp situated at a hilltop surrounded by the apple orchards in Kanidajan area of Pakherpora. A few neighbours joined him too.
Once they reached outside camp, as per Mr. Wani, army personnel returned the identity cards of other boys, while took Mr. Ahmad inside for questioning. “They asked me to go back,” said Mr. Wani. “They said, ‘we will leave him soon’.”
This made him anxious and he rushed to the local police station in Pakherpora for help. “But, the police stationed at the Pakherpora village did not pay much attention to my statement.”
The Kashmir Walla reached out to the Station House Officer (SHO) of Pakherpora, Imtiyaz Ahmad, and he said that the alleged person involved in the case doesn’t come under his jurisdiction, but, “when they came to the police station, I told my collegue to contact the army and asked them to return his phone.” After that, as he says, he has no update of the incident. Adding to it, he said that he will contact the Senior Superintendent of Police, Budgam to investigate the matter.
After some time, Mr. Wani’s phone rang. His son’s calling swept the anxiety. “I quickly picked the call and asked, ‘where are you?’, he told me the location and we rushed to the spot,” said Mr, Wani. “When I saw him first, I thought he will die.”
According to Mr. Wani, army had asked him to give the information about the militant hideouts and tell about their movements. “He is a student and has nothing to do with such things. They have beaten up him so mercilessly and threw him in the deserted area.”
In the crucial times, Mr. Wani took him to the Pakherpora hospital, from where, doctors shifted him to SMHS hospital. According to the medical reports, he has suffered internal injury in his private parts.
Mr. Ahmad, a 12 grade student was unable to narrate his pain to the doctor, even after being pressurized by the doctor, his only answer was, “dagg” (pain).
“He was going to appear in his 12 grade exam after three days, but how can he appear now?” questions Mr. Wani. Adding to it, he mentioned that they are living a life “full of miseries, as such episodes have become a common thing in their area now.”
By the time this report was filed, Mr. Sameer was under treatment in hospital and as per his doctors, he has to go through many medical inspections. “We are living under brutality and feel helpless,” said Mr. Wani.
The Defense Spokesperson Colonel Rajesh Kalia while speaking to The Kashmir Walla said, “No army personnel is involved in any such case. These are baseless allegations.”