After finishing a day at work, 19-year-old Aadil Ahmad Ganaie, a carpenter, was walking to his home in Chak–Karpora area of Pakherpora in Budgam district of Central on Saturday. But his walk turned nightmare when he was stopped by 53 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) of the army.
Now bedridden in a room of his single-storey home in Chak-Karpora, filled with neighbours and relatives, who had come to see him, Mr. Ganaie tells The Kashmir Walla, “I was walking and suddenly, at least 10 army personnel surrounded me and shouted at me, asking ‘which direction did the militants go?’.”
Mr. Ganaie says that he replied in negative, and added to his answer, “I’m coming from work. I’m a carpenter and have to reach home.” But his reply further angered the army personnel and pounced on him to beat him ruthlessly till he had fallen unconscious.
“They asked me to lift my legs and then (they) hit me on my testicles,” adds Mr. Ganaie, while resting his head on a couple of cushions. “After a while, they told another passerby to lift me as I was lying, screaming for help. He informed my parents about the incident and rushed me to the district hospital.”
On way to the hospital, his father, Nazir Ahmed Ganaie, 45, was counting minutes, expecting the worst. “His face was pale and he was uttering that he will die due to pain,” said Mr. Nazir. Seeing his condition at the Pakeherpora sub-district hospital, the doctors on duty, after giving emergency first aid, told the family to shift him to Srinagar as his condition was critical.
Mr. Nazir recalls reaching Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) hospital at around 10:30 pm yesterday. “We spent 15 hours at the SMHS. Doctors conducted medical checkup and kept him under observation overnight.”
As per the father, the doctors have given a month rest to his son, for he has a severe internal injury in his swelled private parts.
Not first such incident in the area
“I was beaten up without any reason,” adds Mr. Ganaie, while his relatives ask him about how he is feeling now. “Not only me, but this has also become a routine of armed personnel to harass youth here.”
In many parts of the area, according to the locals, the army has installed check-posts similar to what used to be a common sight in the 1990s during the peak of militancy.
“Army and other government forces snatch our mobile phones and ask us to visit the camps to collect them back,” complained Mr. Aarif, a local from the same village. “At the camps, they interrogate us and force us to become an informer for them. They even take our phone numbers and later tell us to keep surveillance on the movement of militants. How can we? They even force us to take money.”
These incidents and the trauma of youth has taken a toll at their mental health, who end up finding themselves caught amid conflict, without any exit. In a rage, Mr. Ganaie adds, “If I wouldn’t have been bedridden, I would have joined militancy too.”
Such incidents have been increasing in past few years as the counter-insurgency operations against militants have only increased, leading to, what state calls – ‘collateral damage’ – to civilian properties and also the psychological impact on civilians.
Listening to his son, Mr. Nazir, a father of four, adds that the army is instigating youth for the extreme steps. “If I would get a chance once to ask them (army), I would ask how does it serve or benefits them to beat up and harass common people.”
As others joined him in the room where Mr. Ganaie’s mother was feeding him food with a spoon as his hands are being strained by the army, he further added, “Such incidents are only giving reasons to the youth to join the path of militancy. They feel it is better to join (militancy) rather than becoming a part of this routine.”
Making of a militant
Five months ago, a similar incident with another youth of the same name, changed his life. As Mr. Nazir was speaking about the army’s role in the area, a woman broke into tears and yelling, “temis jananus ti kerhem yemai bahane, satavhes yooet kal pate su choell (They did same to my son and he couldn’t tolerate and left).
Her son joined militancy on 22 January this year after facing similar treatment at the hands of government forces for more than a year. “He was my elder son and was working as a tractor driver,” says Rafiqa Bano, mother of another Adil Ganai, 21, who is now an active militant. “On the day of parliamentary elections in 2017, two civilians were killed in our village (Dalwan, Budgam). My son was part of the funeral and also the protests after the killing. This became the grounds for police and army to frequently harass him.”
In the coming days, Mr. Adil was arrested several times. “I paid 1,25,000 rupees to the police in many installments to not harass my son. But the army never changed their behavior.”
Ms. Bano, when she heard Saturday’s incident with Mr. Nazir’s son, was taken back, and felt it was the chronology of events that happened with her son, whose whereabouts are now unknown.
In the backdrop of regular harassment and mental trauma took the toll over Mr. Ganaie, and he left to join militancy after a gunfight in the area in last January. Recalling the day, Ms. Bano says, “After the gunfight, a youth was taken by the army and was mercilessly beaten up. It became a trigger for my son. He told me they would do same with him.”
Next morning, he was having tea with her, and while going out of the house told her, “Is this good or shall I wear the new pheran?”
She recalls asking him, “Where are you going?”
“‘I will be back soon,'” he replied.
“Since then I have only been seeing him in mirages,” adds Ms. Bano.
Her reason to visit Mr. Ganaie was to tell the family about her loss, so that it doesn’t happen again. The two parents shared grief of their sons – with one having lost her son to the gun and another lying on the bed.