by Khalid Bashir Gura
SRINAGAR: A week has dragged on but Nasrullah Pora village has not subsided. The fear, anger, rage among the residents remains undiminished and the tears have not dried yet. The streets are eerily silent.
It all started on May 8, 2020, the last Friday when some of the residents converged in the local mosque for the prayers. It was in contravention to the lockdown rules and social distancing norms, placed across India on March 25 which banned large gatherings-religious, social, cultural and political.
Residents alleged that quite a few people had gathered in a local mosque to offer prayers. They said the numbers were thin and they ensured they maintain a social distance within the premises. In order to prevent them from prayers, a police officer of the rank of a DySP entered the mosque with his escorts. They insist the officer barged into the mosque with his shoes on. It, they say, enraged worshippers and triggered a quick reaction.
As the high-pitch noises attracted others, a good crowd assembled. These included worshippers from another masque. The arguments started and it led to fistfight in which the DySP was injured. Residents said the officer was rescued from the surcharged group and escorted out of the mob. Reports said he had received head injures.
Police decided to react.
After a couple of hours later, the cops came to the village. Residents said they were in many armoured vehicles and were carrying “hammers and rods”. They swooped down on everything that they could lay hands on. It was a joint posse of police and CRPF, residents alleged.
“It was as if there was an encounter was going on,” says Mudassir Ahmed who is a local and an eye witness.
According to him they came in large numbers and went berserk. The vehicles on the streets were smashed and broken, and then they entered houses. The police personnel broke gates, doors, windows, and vandalised household property.
“Whatever was inside houses was upturned, smashed, shattered and vandalised,” alleged Mudassir. Even women’s were not spared.
Another resident, Furqan Ahmed said: “The apple trees were axed. The cricket kits, other objects lying in the lawn, houses were stolen.” He said he watching it the attic of his house. The vehicles in the house were vandalized. In the market, they damaged and looted shops.
“My house is just a brick now,” Mudasir said. “Everything has been damaged. They carried on with vandalism till evening.”
People started knowing things about the attacks only after the internet services were restored. A few photographs and videos surfaced on social media offering details of the crisis. A clip showed a cop damaging shops and houses. Though unverified if they belonged to the same event, another 2-minute video recorded on a mobile phone, showed a cop taking out goods from a shop and burning them.
The kitchen utensils, refrigerators, televisions, and every household item lays scattered and broken in lawns.
Fearing raids, the people fled. Some of them, mostly women and elderly, returned home only in the last two days.
“The police didn’t take off their shoes; that’s what made some elders angry,” Farooq Dar, whose home was among the ones attacked, was quoted by The Print saying. Dar is the brother of the Nasrullah Pora sarpanch Ghulam Mohammad, who belongs to the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Insisting that efforts to get a response from the police failed, The Print reported: “However, police sources denied the villagers’ allegations, saying the DSP and his team had gone to disperse an assembly of people who might have gathered to offer funeral prayers for slain militant commander Riyaz Naikoo, who was killed on 6 May.”
Reports appearing in the media said the police have registered a case against some 50 residents. There have been some arrests also.
Reporting that Kashmir Police Chief Vijay Kumar has also seen “a clip of alleged vandalism”, the NDTV quoted him saying: “I have seen a video clip. I have asked Senior Superintendent of Police, Budgam, to submit a report.” The NDTV report quoted residents alleging that the “cops have been raiding the village for the last four days after the attack on the cop on Friday.”
What is interesting that weeks ahead of the raids, the local youngsters had started a local campaign for social distancing and necessary precautions to keep the virus at bay. They had even done Funimation of the village also and had kept the district administration informed about their activities using social media.