On Thursday night, the house of 70-year-old Fatima Begum was upbeat as she prepared for the marriage of her granddaughter. A few family members were writing names on visiting cards when the celebrations were stopped by a raid by the army’s 44 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) as they vandalized the house and beat up the family members, claimed Ms. Begum.
“Are we militants? Are we doing Jihad?” she cries, showing her hands that bear the scars of beatings. “We are caught without a reason.” During the raid, Ms. Begum was “beaten up [and] dragged by her back” by the army, claimed her daughter-in-law, Aisha Begum.
“They harass us, time and again, without any reason,” said Ms. Aisha. “My daughter is getting married in fourteen days [and] they have damaged everything here.”
Earlier in the day, suspected militants had reportedly attacked the army’s Casper vehicle in the village. However, no injuries were reported.
“Firing happened two kilometers away from [my house],” Ms. Aisha said, citing the attack by the suspected militants. “I don’t understand what is our fault? They raid our houses day and night.” During the raid, she alleged, “the army beat up my husband as much as they could.”
Her husband, Manzoor Ahmed Andrabi, and their son, Rifayat Andrabi, were injured and the duo was later taken to the District Hospital Pulwama for treatment. “My son’s hand and leg are fractured,” Elder Andrabi told The Kashmir Walla.
Talking to The Kashmir Walla, Tanveer Dar, additional superintendent of police, Pulwama, said, “My team has gone there and they’ll look into it.” He added that the family has only informed him, “not filed any complaints.” Defense Spokesperson, Rajesh Kalia, told The Kashmir Walla: “No army personnel has damaged any civilian property or manhandled [any civilian]. These allegations are totally, totally baseless.”
Merely a kilometer away is the house of Zahid Ahmed, a militant affiliated with Lashkar-e-Taiba. There, the windowpanes are shattered on the floor, clothes are strewn around, and, in the kitchen, utensils are scattered and oil has been spilled over rice.
Its occupants, the family of Mr. Ahmed, alias Zahid Tiger, claims that the army’s 44 RR ransacked the house and physically assaulted them.
For the family, Zohaiba Bano, the mother of Mr. Ahmed, said, “He was martyred the day he left the house two years ago.” She added that “his fight is with them, and they should fight him. Why are they attacking us? What is our mistake?”
Mr. Ahmed’s elderly grandfather, Abdul Jabbar, alleged that he was “beaten to pulp” by the army. “They beat me up so badly. They forced me to the ground and beat me,” he said. “What have we done to them? Every time they come and beat us for no reason at all.”
Her sister-in-law, Haseena Bano, further alleged that “they shoved a gun barrel in [Ms. Zohaiba’s] mouth and [later] fired bullets at the house from the porch,” she alleged. “The army damaged everything. They even fired into our rooms. Humare bacche baal baal bach gaye.”
Additional reporting by Qayoom Khan and Yashraj Sharma.