With most of militancy and hate hatching in virtual Kashmir, member of security grid have started physical check of the cell phone young men carry along. This is adding to the tensions in the periphery, Umar Mukhtar reports

Irfan (name changed), 24, a resident of Koil Pulwama puts on a new dress, takes his Samsung smart phone in his hands and brushes off the dirt from his Pulsar motorbike. He kicks his bike to life and takes a short route via Ratnipora to reach his destination. He had to visit Kakapora, his sister’s new home after her marriage, two months ago.

Reaching at the main stop of Pahoo Pulwama, Irfan turns off the engine and puts his bike on the stands on one side of a road. He buys fruit as a customary present for his sister. Nearing his destination, Irfan was stopped by the army personnel of Rashtriya Rifles unit near the railway bridge at Kakapora. He was asked to come down from his bike and to show his identity proof. Irfan thought, it as a usual security checks.  He nodded them with a smile and puts his hand into his jeans pocket. His smile was answered by a harsh voice, authoritatively ‘jaldi nikalo, jeab mai bam rakha hai kya’.

As Irfan was about to take out his identity proof from his wallet, another army man began frisking him and took out his phone. ‘Lock Kholo’ yelled the army man with an abuse. Irfan began to shiver as he was now surrounded by more than six soldiers who were having lathis in their hands. Nervously, Irfan managed to unlock the phone.

The army men began scanning his phone gallery and they found images of Pakistani flag and some of the militants which infuriated them.

One of the army men pulled back his lathi and hit irfan on his knee, ‘ye tumahre baap ki photo hai. ’ The others followed. They caught hold of his collar and began thrashing and kicking him.

Blood oozed out of Irfan’s nose and mouth. He was pleading before them to listen to him but they did not. Irfan was not given a chance to say anything. “A day before, two militants were killed in an encounter,” Irfan was pleading. “I am added on a news group on whatsAap and these were the pictures that were shared on that group. That is how these pictures were in my phone.”

The bike was damaged. Its head light were broken. Not even the indicator bulb was spared. After a severe thrashing, Irfan was let go without his phone. ’To collect his phone, he was asked to visit Kakapora camp. With the blood all over his face, aching body and torn clothes Irfan lifted the bike and started it. His destination had changed. Instead of visiting his sister, he drove directly to public health centre (PHC) Kakapora for medical aid.

Irfan never went to claim his phone. He said he did not want any more trouble as he knows the costs of visiting an army camp entails. “I applied for the duplicate SIM card and bought a new phone,” he said. Now he is concerned because the phone with the army had his family album in its gallery.

SOUTH Kashmir, off late, is witnessing the new routine: the mobile phone check. Pulwama and Shopian districts have increased incidence of soldiers taking away cell phone and getting into the galleries to get details about what the young men has in store.

Riyaz Ahmad and his pillion Javaid were travelling from Marvel village in Pulwama to Pampore on their bike. Once they reached the outskirts of the Pampore near the newly constructed highway, a contingent of police and CRPF personnel was there frisking the commuters and the vehicles passing by.

Riyaz and Javaid were stopped and asked to get down. They were neither asked for the identity proof nor were they frisked. A CRPF man came close to Javaid and put his hand inside his pant pocket. He took out his phone and began scanning the gallery. He found nothing objectionable. In Riyaz’s phone, however, a photograph of teenage rebel Burhan Wani was spotted in the gallery.

Beatings and abuses followed not only for Riyaz but Javaid was also roughed up for no fault. Bike was damaged. The mobile phones of both of them were snatched and were let go with injured faces and the damaged bikes.

It is being seen a new normal. This new trend has also led to many concerns and new parental approach.

Ghulam Mohammad, a business man from Shopian, scans the gallery of his son’s phone before letting him step out of his home. He ensures that there is no militant or Pakistan related content in his phone. “I know what it means if he has such stuff and would be caught by the forces,” Ghulam Mohammad said.

“Before going to my college my mother asks me to put my hand on her head and swear, I have no such image in my mobile phone,” said a college going youth in Bejbehara.

Recently also, a video was circulated on the social networking sites where army men were seen beating and abusing youth for carrying the picture of Burhan Wani, who was killed last year on July 8 by the forces. That video was also believed to be shot in the southern part of the valley where such incidents have become a ‘routine’.

The youth is seen pleading before the army men to spare him. He pleads that he is fasting. “I am fasting please leave me, I will never keep such photos in my phone,” the youth is seen pleading before the army men in the video.

Reports suggest that prior to the Friday killing of a young tailor in Beerwa, soldiers have been scanning the cell phones of the youth. One elderly resident in Beerwa said that there were almost a dozen cases in which the cell phones were recovered from pockets of youth, scanned and thrown away and damaged. “This has led to a surcharged situation,” the elderly resident, who refused to disclose his name, said. “On Friday when soldiers were beating a young man, Tanveer tried to intervene and he was shot dead.”

Police sources suggest that somebody had crushed a fruiti packet and it created sound of a cracker. The soldiers mistook it as a blast and opened direct fire that hit Tanveer. Army has claimed they opened fire to prevent a weapon snatching attack.

THE increased checking of the youths’ mobile in the city periphery is adding to their tensions. Whether or not it is an intrusion in the privacy of people, it is gradually snowballing into a new factor.


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