“Leave me, I will go to the Army camp and kill the Major who shot dead my sister,” Uzma Jan shouted before she had to be stopped by a few men gathered at her home to condole the killing of Andleeb Jan, 13 who was killed in Army firing along with two others in South Kashmir’s Hawoora Village on Saturday, Soon Uzma fainted.
The Kashmir Valley has been gripped by a new wave of violence which has taken a strong grip especially down in South Kashmir. The Civilian killings as can be plainly gauged from stats has seen a sharp rise since 2016. More than 200 Civilians have been shot dead in the valley as India government continues to tighten its Iron Fist Policy over Kashmir valley.
Villagers clear the blood of a victim from the main road in Hawoora (Pic/ Murtaza Gull)
Hawoora- the centre stage of killings this time is located in the middle of two Army camps, one in Khudwani and the other one at Frisal. Early morning on Saturday the Rashtriya Rifles men allegedly entered the village, the convoy from Khudwani on the way to Hawoora was stoned at Redwani where hundreds of youth threw stones on Forces. The vehicles of the Forces left the village immediately. “They were stoned here, they did not stop here, not even for a second, in fact they accelerated their vehicles,” Javaid Ahmed Sofi, a resident of Gath Redwani told The Kashmiriyat.
The Army men proceeding towards Hawoora parked their vehicles near a Government school in Hawoora, broke into the school premises and assaulted students allegedly including girls. “They also arrested two students from the school after thrashing them black and blue,” Mushtaq Ahmed Allie, a Hawoora resident told The Kashmiriyat.
The Army as alleged by locals shouted Pro Zakir Musa and Pro Pakistan slogans post this. “This was visibly to call the youth out. Two Young boys from our house too left thinking a pro Freedom demonstration was going on,” Mushtaq said. He alleged that as soon as some young boys came out on the streets. The Army troopers already on the streets fired a volley of bullets on them.
Shakir Ahmed Khanday, a first year college student was hit in his shoulder. “We somehow gathered courage and picked him up, brought him to a nearby locality,” said Zubair, an eyewitness. As per family sources Shakir rushed out of his home at around 11 am upon hearing the sounds of pro Pakistan and Pro Zakir Musa slogans. Andleeb, the 13 year old girl who has no brother ran out to help the injured with a glass of water, she too was shot at in her legs. Another labourer, Irshad Majeed Lone aged 22 was also shot in his leg while he was on the way to work.
Though the Army claimed that they fired in self defence after they came under attack from stone throwers. However locals claimed that the Army provoked the locals to pelt stones by faking as protesters and shouting Pro Pakistan and Pro Zakir Musa Slogans. Later fired bullets that bore into the bodies of three civilians, cutting short the dreams of a lifetime.
A Girl Displays the spot where Andleeba (one of the victim) was shot dead (Photo/ Suhail Dar)
Andleeb Jan, the 13 year old girl was the youngest child to her parents who have two other daughters. “We were micing onions and Garlic, when she heard that Shakir had been injured in the gunfight,” Uzma, her sister told The Kashmiriyat. Shakir who is a next door neighbour to Andleeb was more of a brother to Andleeb, he brought candies for her every morning and after returning from the College. “He (Shakir) always told her, Do not worry that you do not have a brother, i am your brother,” she added.
“Upon hearing that Shakir had been injured in the gunfight she ran out with a glass of water wailing and crying, ‘my brother has been hit’,” her mother told The Kashmiriyat. She claims that many women from the locality came out to help the injured. The troopers she believes spotted her and fired a burst of bullets at her. “When the bullets were fired, we all ran for cover,” her mother recalls. “I reached home and found Andleeb was not there,” she says.
“She tried to hold my hand, i think, but everyone was running for safety,” Uzma recalling the horror of the day says. The firing was going on constantly for 15 minutes. “When i reached a safe destiny, i saw Andleeb missing and i ran back to the spot,” uzma remembers adding that, “She looked at me, showing me her Mehandi full hands, smiled and then closed her eyes forever.”
“She was the dearest child to everyone in the family, a genius and always got the first rank in her class,” a friend recalls. We do not know what death means, but it is surely a beautiful place than Kashmir, Shafiya, the desk mate and the “best friend” of Andleeb recalls.
“They say the youth were pelting stones, What stones will a 13 year old girl throw? What damage will she cause? Which nation or an Army is she threat to?,” her uncle Mushtaq asked.
The family alleged that after shooting Andleeb dead the Army barged into the house and ransacked the household items.
Adleeb was the youngest daughter to her parents. Her elder sisters are studying in class 11 and 12th.
Shakir Ahmed Khanday
The College going Shakir came out of his house without knowing that Forces were on the roads. “They shouted slogans inviting youth to come out on the streets, surely they did not come here to just see things,” Aaqib recalls. He told The Kashmiriyat that Shakir saw youth from the school being tortured severely on the road which drove him agitated. “Before we could even throw stones, they started firing at us.”
He (Shakir) was hit on his shoulder, we somehow managed to recover him to his home when Army again started firing, the civilians including women who had come out after hearing the news that Shakir had been shot, all ran for cover. “It looked like bullets were raining from all sides,” Aaqib recalls.
Shakir as per his family was a confident boy and generous as per the neighbours. “He would infuse life even into the dead with his humanity,” a cousin of Shakir told The Kashmiriyat.
Shakir collapsed on the road as the Army did not allow the civilians to pick him or Andleeb up. “They breathed their last at the same spot, siblings in life and siblings in death,” the cousin said.
Shakir as per locals could have been, but he died due to the excessive loss of blood.
Son to poor parents, Shakir is survived by an elder brother.
Irshad Majeed Lone
In the corner of his newly built house, the sad Abdul Majeed Lone is attending the mourners. “I did not know that we will inaugurate the new house by a death,” Majeed said. Irshad unlike Andleeb and Shakir was the bread earner to his family. he worked as a labourer and it was due to his tireless labour that the family had managed to build a new house.
“I regret today, i always told my son to not join any protest or pro freedom gatherings, it was a normal day, we did not know the army was here, he left for work after taking the permission of his mother,” Majeed told The Kashmiriyat.
“When he reached on the road, Irshad was shot near his urinal area, he bled on the side of the road for many minutes, but we kept watching him from a street as he pleaded for help, but the Army was raining bullets from all sides,” said an eyewitness.
“People did not even know him in this locality, he was silent and never was interested in anything other than his work,” a neighbour of Irshad said. He always asked the locality kids to not indulge in stone throwing as their parents loved him. “He was the torch bearer of peace, i would not hesitate to say,” a teacher among the mourners said.
Shakir’s father is a labourer and has three more sons.
The spot where Shakir was shot at initially (Photo/ Murtaza Gull)
Horror of the Day
Whispered testimony from a traumatised villagers has revealed a gruesome new level of violence against the most defenceless of locals.
Days after the worst “mass shooting” in the village history, the area is haunted by what they saw on Saturday, the blood-soaked roads, the rain of bullets.
The horror and “full-on panic mode” at Hawoora in South Kashmir’s Kulgam was described by people who escaped the rampage by hopping fences and running for their lives while their friends were fatally wounded or gunned down.
“I’m trying to get the horror out of my mind,” said Bilal from Hawoora. “But you can’t unsee what you already saw.”
Surrounded by the corpses of two neighbours, women hid in their houses for the next half an hour. “I do not know how long it was before she breathed her last, but she remembers hearing the crying of her 13-year old neighbour. Andleeb was soaked in blood, and had been shot three times in the legs,” Feroza, a lady told The Kashmiriyat.
Nine family members and four neighbours had been hiding at Feroza’a house as bullet sounds reverberated in the skies for many minutes as the Bullets from Indian Troops raged outside the ancient walls of this old village about 15 kilometres away from district headquarters of Kulgam.
The troopers were also accused of theft and vandalization by the locals. “After Killing my daughter, when we reached back, they had entered the house, ransacked household items,” Andleeb’s mother said.
“The horror of Saturday is a horror that I wish that no one will ever experience,” said one of the survivors of the Saturday’s firing, who still has scars on his face and stomach from his wounds that day.
Abdul Majeed Lone, a victim’s father said that his another son was shot at with three bullets after being dragged on the road for more than 500 meteres. “Zahid (his other son) was initially hit and then dragged on the street, hit with three more bullets at a point blank range and then kicked with boots on his bullet wounds,” Majeed said adding that his son is battling for life in a Srinagar hospital.
The boy had been crying all the time since the shooting and asking where were his brother was.. “I am carrying him with me all the time, holding on to him. I have to bring him to the mosque today because nobody is left to take care of him,” he said.
The villagers insisted that the action was carried out intentionally, that it wasn’t a mistake or a provocation but a murder. The villagers were upset, but there is no expectation of justice here, neither did the villagers file an FIR or demanded that the shooter or shooters be punished. “What Justice do we expect, they are the judges and they are the killers,” a Mourner said.
Villagers gather in the square of Hawoora to recall the dead from the area (Pic/ Suhail Dar)
The result of the iron fist Policy adopted by the Indian Government has been a long, grinding conflict centred at villages in South Kashmir. The militants have been unable to control territory, but the military and security forces have also been unable to bring security, as the civilian anger seethes continuously and more youth are picking up arms mostly targeting outposts and convoys.
The Militant attacks have largely focused on Army and recently the local Police. Hundreds have been killed, although exact numbers are unclear. The militants have also allegedly assassinated individuals the group considers to be spies for the government.
Given the high number of casualties the villagers suffered, People believe that the crimes committed by Government Forces is pushing the youth away from mainstream. “When the firing incident on Saturday rang out and the firing shook the area, people screamed and cried out in pain,” Mushtaq said adding that,”We all ran away.” The Villagers following the incident have taken an oath not to run away from their homes as they fear for the safety of women back home, in fact the village has turned fearless.
While i was speaking to people, a rumour spread in the area that army has raided the locality, the youth in the village stormed towards the road with stones in their hands, ran for nearly 500 meters, but found nobody. “They should thank God, today he kept them safe,” a young boy said in a humorous tone throwing down his stone.
Author: Qazi Shibli
Qazi Shibli is a News Editor with ‘The Kashmiriyat.’ He is a Journalism graduate from Bangalore University.