Two CASO’s, Two Stories

SRINAGAR: The cordon and search operations (CASO) have came in sharp focus in the last few days. While in one case, a housewife allegedly died, in another case, the police arrested a lady, who was already working with the police as SPO.

A Housewife Dies

During the intervening night of April 14 and 15, a group of protesters told reporters that cops raided the residence of Khatija Pattoo in Mirakshah Colony of Batapora Habak.  The raid was carried out at around 2:30 am, they alleged.

As they opened the door to the frantic knocks, they saw cops seeking their son for interrogation. While some started asking questions to the mother and daughter, some got upstairs and got their son. His father agitated and volunteered to accompany his son, Javaid Ahmad, to the police station.

“They tried to take away my brother but my father did not let them do so, telling them to take him along also,” the daughter of the deceased and sister of the youth, told reporters. “Then they went outside and my mother fell in the veranda. A policeman told our relative (a woman) to take care of her but she said that my mother was no more. As soon as they heard this, the policemen left my brother and fled. They took away his mobile, though.”

The boy told reporters that they sought his phone and he handed it over to them and showed them the unlocking pattern. “They tried to take me away, along with my laptop, but then told me to leave the laptop. My father and mother held me up and took me outside. In the meantime my mother had fallen,” Javed said.

While cops quickly left the spot, they asked Javed to report to the police station in the morning.

Responding to the protests, police issued a tow liner. “On basis of an input, a joint CASO of Police & CRPF was launched in Meerak Shah Colony last night,” the spokesman said. “Search was conducted. The search parties left after completing the search. In the morning it was learnt that one lady, Mst Khatija Putoo, resident of same locality, died because of a heart attack. Police is looking into the matter.”

Was CRPF and police mobilised to arrest a cell phone? If yes, what has been the outcome of the midnight exercise? There are no answers so far.

A Video Clip

A day after Mrs Pattoo’s cardiac arrest, one small video clip was making rounds on the social media. It was a woman hurling invectives on a group that apparently seemed to be counter-insurgents. The clip showed the woman walked and talking but nothing was on visually available – neither security men, nor the people around.

The lady was hurling abuses on the security grid, who according to her raided her home when her mother was alone. She was very angry and insisted that nobody was in her house during all these raids.

“Why do you come again and again? Go to the houses where militants are. You don’t even allow us to have our sehri (pre-dawn meal during Ramzan)… If you have to search our house, first remove your shoes,” the lady whose face is invisible is heard shouting. Insisting that her mother was not well, the woman adds, “If something happens to her, then you will see.”

One soldier, also invisible in the video, shouts back, the woman says they can’t frighten her. “Shut your mouth. We are not going to be scared. This is our Kashmir. You have come from outside. Do whatever you want to do,” the woman says, adding, “If they (militants) had been here, they would have pumped a burst of fire into your heart.”

Sacked As SPO

It was a police spokesman who gave the details later. He said the lady was a special police official (SPO) who was sacked from her “service” and was arrested for “glorifying terrorism” and “obstructing” government officials in the discharge of their duty.

Identified as Saima Akhter, daughter of Ghulam Nabi Rah, a resident of Frisal (Kulgam), she had been arrested under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. The police spokesman said that a search operation was launched in Karewa Mohallah on a specific input regarding the presence of militants there.

“The lady resisted the search party and turned violent and uttered statements glorifying violent actions of terrorists,” the spokesman said.  Akhter captured a video on her phone and uploaded it on social media platforms for dissemination “with the intent of disrupting the search operation”.

“Regarding the incident, a case FIR No 19/2021 U/S 353 IPC, 13 UA(P) Act stands registered in Police Station Yaripora and investigation of case is in progress,” the spokesman added.

Politicians React

It triggered a reaction on the social media. Even some politicians reacted to it. “Saima Akhter from Kulgam has been slapped with UAPA for raising legitimate questions about searching her home repeatedly without any reasons. Saima’s ailing mother understandably exacerbated her worries. When it comes to cruelty even women arent spared in Naya Kashmir,” Mehbooba Mufti tweeted.

Ms mufti was not the only politician to react. “Harassment of common people is the reasons for such incident,” Communist leader Yousuf Tarigami sad in a statement, asserting the acted in haste. “It is high time that the law enforcing agencies have are-look at the situation and ensure common people are not harassed as its results are not positive,” Tarigami said. He suggested the authorities instead of sacking her and registering a case should have dealt it with persuasion.

A Clarification

Police have issued another statement in response to the commentary on the incident. Here follows the statement:

“Apropos our earlier press note regarding disengagement of lady SPO from service for glorifying terrorism in Kulgam dated 16 April 2021. It has been found that on various media platforms, a number of vested interests with malafide intentions have put in a lot of efforts into making the incident appear like an “over-reach” and an” excessively strict action”.

It is clarified that the accused woman uttered Pro terrorism and pro-secessionist slogans off-camera thus inviting penal action under ULA(P)Act.

The uttering made on-camera was live-streamed for further dissemination on diverse social media platforms with the intention to cause disruption of an ongoing operation and to incite disaffection towards the State. This is punishable under the Indian Penal Code and ULA(P)Act.

Also, the accused being a police employee, is bound by a code of conduct that was brazenly violated by her. Thus the concurrent departmental action has been taken against her.

The household of the accused is a suspected shelter point of an active Hizb-ul-Mujahidin terrorist namely Aslam Dar and the woman has been on police radar as a suspected OGW, thus was subjected to search. It remains to be investigated whether her act was meant as a disruption tactic to aid escape of the said terrorist when the search operation was underway.

It is, thus, requested that no heed should be paid towards those trying to paint the incident in any hue other than a criminal act.”

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