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CRPF men brutalise family, attempt to rape and kill
Rashid (his surname) said that his family left their home in Kulgam at noon on Monday, July 11, to take his ailing mother, Hamida, 59, for treatment to Srinagar. His mother, who suffers from diabetes, had complained of acute pain in her kidneys in the morning. She did not wish to be taken to Srinagar as there was curfew in the area, but her children decided that she had to be seen by a doctor.
Rashid’s father had died last year from a prolonged illness. He has a younger sister, Shazia (name changed), who insisted on accompanying her mother as she wanted to be by her side. The family went in a car to see the doctor in Srinagar who had been treating Hamida for many years.
Rashid has a long beard, wears skullcap and white kurta-pyjama, and prays five times a day. He said that he had been harassed and tortured by the army and other government forces several times for his typical Muslim looks. “But I have never changed my appearance just because I am perceived to look like a militant,” he said.
The first few kilometres went safely by but at Sangam, CRPF men stopped the car. Rashid said they came running from all sides, took position as if he was a militant, trained their guns at him and told him to come out of the car with both arms up.
Hamida was in intense pain at this time and she was lying with her head down on her daughter’s lap. She said that a great terror struck her when she saw the CRPF men. “My mind stopped working when the CRPF men told my son to come out of the car. I was praying to God for his safety. When I raised my head to see outside, they all came like a horde and smashed the window panes. Then they dragged my daughter out and kicked me,” Hamida said.
Rashid was thrown to the ground, beaten, abused and frisked. The CRPF men took out his cell phone and wallet. When they found pictures of Burhan Wani in his phone, their anger turned into hatred. Rashid said that they lifted him to his feet and said: Tum Kashmiri log sab terrorist ho. Hum tum sab to sabak sikhaenge. Ye Kashmir hamara hai. (You Kashmiri people are all terrorists. We will teach all of you a lesson. This Kashmir is ours.)
The CRPF men hit Rashid on the head with the butts of their rifles. He fell unconscious on the ground. Shazia was in the grip of one soldier. She started shouting. “I freed myself from the grip of the soldier and ran towards my brother. They started beating me and dragged me away. Then they tore up my clothes and I was left half naked. One of the officers came to me, touched my body and private parts. I fainted. I was sure they will rape me and kill my brother,” Shazia recounted, her eyes brimming with tears.
Hamida was still inside the car, crying for her son and daughter to be spared. “I crawled out of the car with great effort and clutched the leg of the officer who was touching my daughter. I pleaded with him to let her go. He spat on me and said, ‘You all are whores.’ I just hid my head in shame and cried,” Hamida said.
The unconscious Rashid was taken away in an armoured vehicle to a nearby CRPF camp. Hamida said she did not know what was going on as she lay face down on the road, praying. “Then God heard my prayers. Someone lifted me to my feet and I heard men speaking in Kashmiri. I saw that some Kashmiri policemen had come and were having an argument with the CRPF men. The policemen took me to their car. My daughter was still inside the CRPF vehicle, as I could hear her cries. A policeman went to save my daughter. The CRPF officer came out of his vehicle, slapped the policeman, and told him to not interfere in their matter. The policeman told him to let go of the girl. They then threw my daughter out of the vehicle. She was yelling madly and asking the CRPF men to kill her. My daughter and I were taken to a police post. I kept looking for my son but he was nowhere to be seen. A police officer told me that my son had been taken to a camp. I threw myself down on his knees and asked him to get my son out of there. He said he will try his best. He then talked on a walkie-talkie to someone and went out. Another policeman came and gave my daughter a sheet to cover her body,” Hamida said.
Shazia said that the CRPF officer was kissing her inside the vehicle and asking her to perform oral sex on him. “When I refused, he exposed my private parts and threw his body on me. He started slapping me, so many times that I fainted. I don’t know what happened but when I opened my eyes I found myself beside my mother, surrounded by policemen who gave me water and sheet to cover by body,” Shazia said.
Rashid said that when he recovered from his unconsciousness, he saw himself in a dark room, naked and facing a camera. “They asked me a number of questions to which I didn’t know how to react. They wanted me to confess that I was part of Burhan Wani’s gang. To all their questions, I answered: ‘Burhan Wani is in my heart. You can kill me. I will die as a martyr. There will be a number of Burhan Wanis who will free Kashmir from you.’”
Rashid was told to wear military uniform. He was told to prepare for his death. “They told me they will send the message to all Kashmiris that they will be killed if they don’t stop supporting terrorists like Burhan. I wore the uniform but I was thinking all the time of what will happen to my mother and sister after my death. I was taken out of the dark room and I heard them talking that they will kill me somewhere in the forests,” Rashid said.
Fortunately for Rashid, the police officer arrived at the camp in the nick of time. The CRPF officer told him that they had captured a militant and were going to eliminate him. The policeman argued with him and it took him an hour to free Rashid from the CRPF’s clutches. The CRPF officer said that Rashid will be freed on the condition that the police officer take responsibility that Rashid will not attack security forces and if he does, then they will charge the police officer for sympathising with militants. Rashid was finally set free and united with his mother and sister.
At the police post, Rashid called his relative in Pampore to take them home. In the evening when the curfew was lifted, Hamida was taken to a local hospital by her relative.
When this reporter contacted on phone the police officer who saved Rashid and Shazia from the CRPF brutes, he said that he saved innocent lives and will continue to do so, whether or not people have faith in the local police.