Budgam: The family of Mohammad Sidiq Dar, his wife and four daughters, have returned home almost a week after they ran away to escape an alleged attack by J&K police personnel. The attackers, his wife recalled, terrified them so much that she fled with their daughters to stay with their relatives.
The attackers were armed, some carrying axes, residents of Nasrullahpur village in Budgam, who witnessed the attack last Friday (May 8) told NewsClick.
Sidiq has reunited with his family but the family of Abdul Rashid Dar, another local of Nasrullahpur, is yet to gather courage to return back home.
The home of Abdul Rashid has been vandalised as well. Even after a week a rice cooker and their television set lies on the porch smashed open and beyond any repair. The wooden staircase that led to the first floor has been severed and windowpanes broken.
The attackers, the villagers alleged, were J&K police personnel who pillaged the locality for two days.
A week has passed since the police raid, but many houses in Nasrullahpur are still empty, others have had their family members sent away. The roadsides are littered with burnt residue, pieces of glass from window panes, soft drink bottles and other goods scattered unevenly, other fragments are unrecognisable. Many provision stores have been emptied. For villagers, however, the reasons behind their trauma is more than the shattered glass.
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The police barged inside Abdul Rashid's home and dragged his wife Ateeqa and his 25-year-old daughter and beat them up, according to a family member. "They came in the night...and beat us up...I was crying for help. I cried for god...they said god will not help you," Ateeqa said while recalling the horrors from last week's attack.
She added that the police beat her daughter and since then she has not returned back. "I don't know how she is," she said.
Not just her daughter, Ateeqa's three sisters who live with their father, were also beaten up by the men in uniform.
She also said that her 80-year-old father Abdul Gaffar has been detained by police since then. "My father is old and has six daughters, they beat him up as well and then the next day he was tied to a Chinar (tree)," Ateeqa said.
The residents of Nasrullahpur village in Budgam district of central Kashmir, about 10 km outside the summer capital Srinagar, left the village as tension mounted in the area following an altercation with police that immediately escalated.
According to a villager, Farooq Ahmad Dar, earlier last week on Friday, some locals gathered in the Mir Mohalla Mosque to offer Friday prayers. Following this a deputy police officer stationed in the area, Fayaz Hussain, entered the mosque to disperse them in the wake of social distancing norms due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
"But, the officer entered the mosque without taking off his shoes which agitated the worshippers and an argument ensued," Farooq said.
A local shopkeeper, Riyaz Ahmad, said there were about 50 men inside the mosque which led to a clash between locals and the police. Many others gathered outside and began to agitate outside the mosque and according to Farooq and Riyaz, the locals had to escort the officer to safety.
According to local news reports, the officer Deputy SP and his PSO was attacked during the incident and suffered injuries. The Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Budgam Amod Nagpure and IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar declined to comment on the incident.
Soon after the Friday prayers incident, the police returned to the village but, this time used force arbitrarily. A video shot by residents on mobile phone featured policemen burning stocks of grains and other goods after taking them out from local shops in the area. The video which captured the "police vandalism" was widely circulated on social media.
The shopkeepers of Nasrullahpur claimed they suffered losses worth lakhs of rupees due to the alleged police vandalism.
Waseem Ahmad who runs a hardware shop in the market has lost goods worth over Rs 10 lakhs in the police raid. The BJP Sarpanch G M Dar's home and Maruti car was also damaged in the incident. "This is what happened to a representative, you can imagine how common people have suffered here. Even the local district magistrate refused to help us saying he has no control," Dar's brother Farooq told NewsClick.
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