Sunday, September 8, 2013


By: Salman Nizami

For all their tall talk about fighting for the rights of Kashmiris, the militants don’t hesitate to shoot innocent citizens of the State in cold blood
The conflict in Kashmir has created voids in almost every heart that has either lost its loved ones to the turmoil or still hopes that someday, somehow, the violence will end. Sitting on a dirty straw mat on the parched ground of Rafiabad of northern Baramulla district, Naseem, the wife of slain Ghulam Qadir sank deeper inside a Kashmiri shawl. Hidden from view, her words burst forth as she told her side of what happened to her husband on the night of May 15, 2006.
According to her, a group of five unidentified gunmen with their faces covered and equipped with a flashlight burst into her three-room mud home, when everyone was asleep. They killed her husband, punched her five-year-old daughter and shoved a gun (AK-47) into the mouth of her baby brother. “We were asleep. They came in, and I was shouting, ‘Bachao, bachao', and then one of the gunmen pulled my husband up. I screamed and screamed and said, “We are not working for any agency, we are not agents. We are no one. Please don't hurt us.” The gunmen weren't listening. One of the gunmen pointed his pistol at Naseem to quieten her and pushed her husband into the kitchen. “My husband just looked back at me and said, ‘I will be back.'”
Seconds later she heard gunshots, she recalled, her voice cracking. Her husband, Ghulam Qadir, was dead. I met other neighbours about the case, all of whom are identified by the local Jammu & Kashmir Police as witnesses or relatives of the witnesses. They included a sister and brother of Mumtaz Lone, who was also killed the same night. The gunmen had suspected them of being informers.
The sister and brother of Mumtaz told how they tried to hide from the unidentified men, only to be shot at and see their brother killed. The killings took place in Baramulla district of Kashmir, an area where women are hidden inside all-enveloping hijab and rarely leave their homes.
Earlier, Naseem said that the gunmen returned to the family's bedroom after killing her husband. Her son said he remembers the sight of the attacker in full military uniform. “I was so afraid. I pretended I was asleep”, he recalled.
He said one of the gunmen found him and punched him repeatedly in the head. She said the gunmen then found her two-year-old daughter. They grabbed her pigtails and violently shook her head back and forth. “He then went to the crying son and shoved the AK-47 rifle into the infant's mouth”, she said. “He just held it there in his mouth. I screamed and screamed, ‘He is just a baby. Don't kill him! Don't kill him!’” But he just kept the gun in his mouth. He didn't say anything. He just stared at him”, she recalled.
The gunmen looked down at her husband, shrugged his shoulders and returned to searching her home. After he finished rifling through their belongings, they left. From another home that was attacked that night, Mumtaz Lone's sister remembers the gunmen  smashing through the door while waving a gun.
Awakened in a small room with her grandmother and her brother, she said she didn't know what to do. “We just ran and they ran after my brother Mumtaz.” She said her brother asked for help. He was killed. “We couldn't stop. We just wanted somewhere to hide. I was holding on to my grandmother and we ran to our washroom”. She was wounded in both her legs, her mother was injured and so was her younger brother. She removed her mother's scarf to show where the wound had healed; the effects will last a lifetime.
Mumtaz's mother spent about two months recovering at the SKIMS Hospital in Srinagar, accompanied by her daughter and son. Mumtaz's sister spoke of her treatment in SKIMS and of the doctors and nurses who helped her learn to walk again and gave her gifts. “They showed me so much love”, she said with a smile. “They asked me about what happened and when I told them how my elder brother Mumtaz was killed and how afraid I was and how my mother was shot, they cried and cried.”

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