Srinagar: Women in Rainawari’s Jogi Lanker area are terrified and allege that the police, led by Station House Officer (SHO) Rashid Khan from the local station, has unleashed a ‘reign of terror’ in the area.
According to the locals of Rainawari, a downtown neighbourhood, the police, especially Khan, has ‘terrorised’ the residents of the locality by ransacking their homes, breaking household goods and abusing and manhandling women living.
“He (Khan) comes in the dead of the night, raids our homes and particularly targets women in a drunken state and assaults us,” an elderly victim told NewsClick.
The woman lives alone with her two daughters in the area. Her husband died some time ago. “One of my daughters is disabled but he even assaulted her. He rattles our gate, barges inside and threatens us by making filthy remarks,” the woman alleged.
The police and security forces have laid an elaborate security cover around the area, covering all entry and exit points with check-posts. Barbed and concertina wires are laid along these entry-points and some areas have been completely restricted for movement.
The locals allege that the police and security forces mostly restrict movement of men, but they ask the women to leap over the concertina wires.
“They deliberately ask women to move along concertina wires due to which the clothes of several women get torn. The police and security officials take advantage of that,” some women alleged.
After this issue was raised by the locality president Nazir Ahmad Hakak and his son, “the police detained him, and without our president there is no one to represent us anymore,” she said.
People in the locality say they have never witnessed police brutality of this scale in years, adding that Rashid Khan has unleashed the “worst form of clampdown” in the area.
The locals also claimed that earlier this week, the SHO did not allow a pregnant woman to visit hospital. “The SHO asked her to deliver the baby on the road but did not allow her to visit the hospital. I ask, which law is this police officer following,” a woman relative of the patient told NewsClick.
NewsClick spoke to dozens of women from the locality and all of them had multiple experiences of horror, abuse and repression, allegedly perpetrated by the local police led by Khan.
Speaking with NewsClick, Khan’s senior, the Superintendent of Police. Srinagar (North) Sajad Shah refuted all the allegations. “The police are following procedure and carrying out raids to arrest stone-pelters in the area. If there is any problem with the SHO, the locals should approach senior police officers and complain, otherwise I cannot substantiate these allegations,” he said.
The locals, however, say the police is “targeting women” in particular. Mansha, 18, a student, was hit by slingshot from a close distance. “She was hit on the forehead right outside our home. She fainted and fell on the ground right there,” Mansha’s father said. The doctors have prescribed complete rest and multiple tests for her.
The locals also alleged that a team of CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) personnel and police, led by Khan, had asked three families in the Jogi Lanker locality to provide space for camping of security personnel.
The security forces have visited the house of Fayaz Ahmad thrice in the past week asking him to either vacate or provide the first floor of their home for CRPF personnel.
Following the nocturnal raids, the locals have started night vigil along the alleys and bylanes in the area to thwart attempts by police to carry out any arrests. “There is provocation, irrespective of whether we do anything or not. The police come in the night. So, it is better to be alert. They anyway detain innocents,” a local who volunteers for the night vigil says.
The clampdown in Kashmir continues as restrictions and communication blockade affects normal lives. More than 50 days have passed since the government unilaterally abrogated Article 370 and bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir into two Union territories. Hundreds, including top politicians, activists, lawyers and businessmen, have been arrested in what the government referred to as “preventive measures” to protest the move.