Hawoora Horror: How Media Reported The Triple Murders?

by Zafar Aafaq

Srinagar: On the eve of second death anniversary of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, on July 7 a posse of army shot dead two young boys and a girl in Hawoora hamlet in Kulgam’s Radwani belt.

The slain were identified as 21-year-old Shakir Khanday and a 12-year-old girl Andleeb Jan and the third one Irshad Lone, also 21. Lone’s brother was brutally wounded when the army fired multiple bullets into his legs, reportedly.

Relatives of slain civilian wailing during funeral prayers.
KL Image by Shah Hilal

Well before the three young slain were lowered in their graves, media had reached. Those who missed the ground report were the next morning, braving tense security bandobast all along. It was a major incident its kind after the spiraled into the governor’s rule. The reportage emanating from the belt was exhaustive and in-depth.

Delhi based news website Scroll.in’s Kashmir scribe Rayan Naqash details, in his report, filed from Kulgam, how the incidents unfolded in Hawoora.

By 11.30 am on Saturday, he reported, residents said, a large number of army personnel arrived in Hawoora on foot. “They were accompanied by four jeeps, residents said, that had approached the village in pairs from two directions,” the report said.

The report quotes Jan’s uncle, Abdul Rahil, having said that the army patrol in the area during the day was unusual. “They mostly come in the nights,” Abdul Rahil is quoted saying.

People carrying the body of slain Andleeb who was killed in army firing on Saturday, July 7, 2018.
KL Image by Shah Hilal

Rahil has told the reporter that the soldiers also pelted stones at residents which provoked the youth. Then the report mentions that the local boys threw stones at the jeep; more than a dozen soldiers alighted and entered the neighborhood.

The soldiers also entered a government school in the village and thrashed students and teachers, they added.

A report filed by Sameer Yasir from Kulgam for Firstpost, another Delhi based news portal, gives the details of the events that transpired at school. It quotes a Hawoora elder saying, “They scaled the walls when they found the gates were locked and students and staff were still inside, then they dragged them by their hair and arrested a ninth class student.”

The Firstpost gives a detailed report of how Shakir and Andleeba were killed by the army.

It says that the residents staged a protest barely 15 feet from the main gate of Shakir Khanday’s—one of the slain youth— house.

Shakir heard the commotion and ran out. “When he reached the road, they found Irshad Majeed Lone, 22, a labourer who operated a concrete mixer machine in a prostrated state. He was hit by bullets,” said Afroza Khanday, Shakir’s mother, the report added.

The body of a slain youth Shakir Ahmad

It further said that the boys from the locality attempted to retrieve the body but the army fired once again. “This time, the bullets hit Shakir and he too collapsed on the road,” Afroza recalled.

“Someone shouted Shakir was hit by bullets. Hearing this, Andleeb grabbed a glassful of water and ran out,” said Andleeb’s mother Ansar Ali Allai to the Firstpost reporter.

Mohammad Suhail, a reporter for Kashmir Reader, a Srinagar based daily reports that several other girls had also run out to tried to save Shakir. It quotes a local, Mohammad Amin saying: “While they tried to pick Shakir up, some army men nearby spotted them and opened fire yet again. This time targeting the girls,” Amin said, adding that the other girls were saved as the wall of a shop covered them from the line of fire.

Andleeb, however, was not fortunate enough. She was standing directly in the line of fire and was shot at. The report further says.  “This second bout of firing was more than ten minutes after the first one,” a neighbor, requesting not to be named, told Kashmir Reader.

He said that the girls assembled there raised hue and cry, forcing many more people to rush outside.

There were not many details on the killing of Irshad Ahmad Lone in these reports. According to Scroll.in report, “Apart from Khanday and Jan (Andleeb) , a third youth, 21-year-old Irshad Lone from nearby Lonepora, died in the incident. Lone’s brother, Zahid Lone, received five bullet injuries in both legs and is currently being treated at a hospital in Srinagar. Kashmir Reader correspondent Manzoor ul Hassan met Zahid at Bone and Joint Hospital in Barzulla Srinagar. He filed a report on the Zahid’s condition and the events he narrated to him.

According to Lone’s testimony, revealed to Hassan, the army fired multiple bullets into the legs of Zahid Lone. “First, I was hit by a bullet in my left leg. As I was knocked down, the soldiers came near me and fired three more bullets into my right leg,” the report quotes Zahid saying and adds that after firing multiple bullets into his leg, the soldiers hit him with gun butts. “Then they dragged him through the village fields.”

“One of the army men was about to kill me when a group of youths chased them away,” the report quotes Zahid.

According to the Firstpost report, Shakir Khanday had no sister and Andleeb Jan had no brother. She addressed him as baya (brother). They were cousins and grew up together.  Shakir would accompany Andleeb Allai to her school every day.

According to a report written by Khalid Gul, one of the most senior correspondents based in South Kashmir, in Greater Kashmir, Andleeb Ali was a student of the seventh standard of Middle School Hawoora, Kulgam. She featured on top of her class register as roll number one.

The report says that Andleeb always topped her school exams and she was also a unanimous choice of teachers and students for the class monitor.  “Her oratory skills were exceptional, as per her teachers and classmates,” the report said. “She aspired to be a teacher. Equally good in sports, she had brought laurels to the school team earlier in Kho-Kho and badminton competitions.”

The reporter has talked to her classmates who called her as their role model and guide and they feel a heavy sense of loss. “I don’t know how I would be able to sit in the classroom without her on my side now.  Her absence would haunt us,” said Ruvaida Amin, her friend, and class fellow. “She was very friendly and she would help us in studies as well. Life would be incomplete without her.”

Not a single report filed from the spot ignored the other versions – read official versions of the story. According to a statement issued by Army, the area domination patrol (ADP) was moving in Hawoora when it came under heavy stone pelting. The statement put out by the army said when the army tried to retreat, the protesters chased them and came “dangerously close”.

“At one point of time, some unidentified terrorists also fired at the column. This resulted in some soldiers receiving grievous injuries. In response to this grave provocation and to ensure the security of the troops, controlled firing was resorted to by the army which resulted in the unfortunate loss of human lives,” goes the army version of the story.

The scroll.in report also mentions the governor’s response to the incident. It states governor N N Vohra, the chief executive of the state currently, convened the meeting with Northern Army Commander, Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, in Srinagar to review the security situation following the incident.

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