Chased to Death

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Casualties of unrest 2016 were of mixed nature. As many as 12 deaths were caused by the chase in which the targets drowned, reports Saima Bhat

Intense pro-freedom protests followed by clashes erupted in Srinagar's Batamaloo area on August 30, 2016. (KL Image: Bilal Bahadur)

Intense pro-freedom protests followed by clashes erupted in Srinagar’s Batamaloo area on August 30, 2016.

In Shalimar, Mehmooda was inconsolable. Her 16-years-old son Qaiser Hameed Sofi, a class 10th student, died at SKIMS after battling for life for a week.

“He was arrested,” her sobbing mother cries. “He told me this before he died.”

Even the hospital authorities have a different view about this unfortunate student of Mirak Shah Sahab School. They say his lungs had collapsed and that is why he was put on ventilator. “When we received him at casualty ward, he had injuries on his legs as well and his clothes smelled foul. From preliminary examination I can say he wasn’t a drug addict but he himself said he was forced to drink at least half a liter of pesticide,” a resident doctor at SKIMS’s emergency ward said while wishing anonymity.

Even though there was violence at Sofi’s funeral, the police have maintained its position. “It is case of suicide,” an official from the concerned police station insist. “We have registered the case under section 309, with FIR number 95/ 2016.”

These “mysterious” deaths continuously pour in since July 08, when Burhan Wani was killed. Next day Zahoor Ahmad Mantoo, 18, left his home in Kisergam Kakpora, Pulwama to attend Burhan’s funeral. Five days later, his body was fished out from river Jhelum at Jeobara in Awantipora.

Nobody knew how Mantoo slipped into river. His body carried no mark of violence or fire arm injury. Officially it is case of ‘drowning’. Mantoo was an orphan and the lone bread earner of his family comprising his mother, a differently-abled brother and four sisters.

People carry body of Danish Sultan Haroo of Palpora Qamarwari towards Eidgah Srinagar. (KL Image: Bilal Bahadur)

People carry body of Danish Sultan Haroo of Palpora Qamarwari towards Eidgah Srinagar. (KL Image: Bilal Bahadur)

On July 09, ITBP road opening party and police party near Ganeshpora in Islamabad clashed with protestors. Police resorted to lathi-charge and chased away them during which Safeer Ahmad Bhat, 23, resident of Cherigam-Pahalgam allegedly slipped into a nearby stream and drowned while running away. His body bore no marks of injury too. But witnesses narrate his death in detail.

Two days later on July 11, Irfan Ahmad Dar, 17, a class 10th student, was allegedly beaten up by government forces outside his house at Tuli Nowpora village of Kulgam district.

His neighbours, witness to the incident said that Dar was trying to save his younger brother from CRPF marshalling. The personnel allegedly turned on him and beat him severely. Son of a spice manufacturing unit worker, Dar was shifted to SKIMS for advanced treatment for hemorrhage but next day he succumbed to his injuries.

The local station officer investigating the FIR No 54/2016 said. “Once investigation is over only then I’ll be in a better position to share the cause of death.”

On August 01, Ishfaq Ahmad Dar, 17, succumbed to his head injuries at SKIMS Soura.

Dar, son of Abdul Khaliq Dar of Tarzoo Sopore, according to his family was allegedly beaten by forces in Sopore on July 23. But the local police had said that he was injured after ‘falling down from a tree’.

“This patient was admitted in the institute on July 23, 2016. His brain was critically damaged as he was hit by forces on his head,” director SKIMS Dr AG Ahanger had said. “ He could not sustain the head injury and succumbed to his injuries.”

Same day, Manzoor Ahmad Bhat, 40, of Doonipawa, Islamabad, too succumbed to his injuries at SMHS hospital. Injured on July 11, locals allege that Bhat received head injury when he was hit by a tear-smoke shell but police records suggest he was working in a tyre repairing shop and received head injury due to tyre burst. There is no FIR in Bhat’s case who is survived by four daughter, all minors.

On August 17, when college lecturer Shabir Ahmad Mangoo, 30, was beaten to death by soldiers in Shaar Shaali in Khrew, it triggered Kashmir wide mourning.

Survived by wife and a toddler son, Mangoo was killed when 50 RR and SOG raided the village and beat civilians during the night long operation. As nearly hundred people were driven to hospitals, Mangoo was declared brought dead by the doctors in Pampore hospital.

On August 26, Shahnawaz Ahmad Khatana, 24, son of Mohammad Iqbal Khatana, Dadoo Marhama in Bijbehara, along with two other friends jumped into Jehlum after government forces chased the protesters. His friends could swim safely to the shores unlike Khatana, whose body was retrieved next day.

“We saw them jumping into Jhelum and we tried to rescue, but the forces on the other side were firing tear gas shells,” an eyewitness was quoted by local newspapers.

Married two years ago and father of seven months old son, Khatana was lone bread earner of his family. Dropped out from his 10th standard exams, he was a labourer. Eldest among seven siblings, he is survived by his ailing parents, two teenage brothers, sister and now his widow and a son. Three of his other sisters are settled. Sand-diggers retrieved his body.

Funeral of Basit Ahmad Ahanger.

Funeral of Basit Ahmad Ahanger.

Police records, as per FIR No 225/2016, suggest Khatana died of drowning, and the case is under investigation. “It will take us 15 more days to investigate if he was chased by police as locals are alleging,” SDPO Bijbehara said.

On September 01, Danish Sultan Haroon, 12, enrolled in 6th class of Oxford Public School, drowned in Jehlum when he along with three other boys jumped into river as government forces chased them. Unlike Danish, three of them swam safely.

Son of Mohammad Sultan Haroon, a resident of Palpora Noorbagh, Haroon was frightened. “Later forces came from both ends of the bridge and started hurling stones at the boys who had jumped into the river,” an eye-witness claimed.

That day local MLA, Mubarak Gul, while talking to media said, “Situation was almost peaceful but I do not know why the forces created panic among youth sitting on the bridge.”

And added, “When locals tried to save the boy, they were also showered with pellets.” But the local police later refused to take the allegations and said there was no deployment in the area on that day!

On September 04, Basit Ahmad Ahanger, 20, died in his Vessu village of Qazigund. After having passed his twelefth standard examination, Ahanger was busy preparing for Punjab, where he had got admission for Bachelors in Business Administration (BBA).

Shahnawaz Ahmad Khatana

Shahnawaz Ahmad Khatana

On the eve of his departure, he had joined a village protest that went off peacefully till he almost reached his home. “He was walking on a concrete edge of road and was caught unaware,” one of the locals told Kashmir Life that day, who was just few meters away recalled. “Cops were hiding behind a shop, there was a loud bang and he felt down.”

Ahanger was hit by pellets in legs. “Soon the cops caught and beat him and then lifted him up and threw him down in the flowing stream, which is around 20 feet down the road with low water level and concrete banks,” an eyewitness recalls, who is Ahanger’s neighbour, who talked to Kashmir Life wishing anonymity. And then he was taken to PHC Vessu “brought dead”. “He had a deep wound in his skull which caused his death besides he had multiple pellet injuries in both of his legs.”

On September 09, a driver Abdul Qayoom Wangnoo, resident of Aali Kadal in Srinagar died after he was allegedly beaten to death by CRPF at Goripora in Sanatnagar, a charge vehemently refuted by police saying that the driver had died in a road accident.

Wangnoo, a driver with state’s CAPD department, is survived by his wife, a 14-years old son and two daughters: 10 years old Mufaida and 12 years old Baiza.

Earlier that day Wangnoo left from his in-laws house in Goripora, where they had come to attend a marriage of his sister-in-law. He was first taken to Bone and Joint hospital from where he was refereed to SKIMS Soura as he had developed ‘brain stem contusion’. He breathed his last same day at 9.30 PM. Nobody was witness to the incident but a wrist watch with tricolor on its dial, not of Wangnoo, was found in his fist,

On September 13, the day of Eid ul Adha, Mansoor Ahmad Lone, 26, was allegedly killed inside an army camp in Sopore. He had gone missing a day before from Hardshiva.

Shabir Ahmad Mangoo

Shabir Ahmad Mangoo

An eyewitness informed a local daily newspaper, Greater Kashmir, “Lone was killed inside army’s 22 RR camp located in Pazalpora because he led anti-India protests in the area and played Azadi songs from the mosque loudspeakers.”

A day after, Lone’s body was found under a heap of stones in a stone quarry. On Eid, Lone had joined a protest march in his village which came under heavy tear gas shelling by 22 RR.

A few boys of Sho village were quoted by GK saying that they saw soldiers chasing Mansoor and catching hold of him in the stone quarries. In the afternoon, Lone’s father, a leukaemia patient, went out with relatives to search for him. They saw blood-smeared stones and it was the first clue.

Younger to his three sisters and eldest to his two brothers, Lone dropped out in 2008 after Class 12 following his father‘s diagnosis with blood cancer. One of his sisters is blind and was the main earner as a field worker in Kashmir University’s geology department.

“Yes we found Mansoor’s body in suspicious circumstances in a stone quarry but it has nothing to do with law and order,” police sources in Sopore said. “He was working with one stone quarry. The investigation is on but so far no eyewitness has approached us.”

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