Srinagar: On the intervening night of July 16-17, a cordon and search operation (CASO) was launched by army personnel at the house of Mudasir Ahmad Wani, a resident of Wanabal in the outskirts of Srinagar city.
Thirty-two-year-old Mudasir alleged that he was beaten up by the forces which left him in bruises while his family including women were harassed during the operation.
“The forces beat us up and thrashed us left right and centre. While leaving the house, they showed us some suspicious object from our lawn and asked me to report along with the same suspicious object at Army Camp Chattergam,” Mudasir told NewsClick.
As the forces left, he added, they took his identity card and his mobile phone.
Army spokesperson Col. Rajesh Kalia, however, denied the allegations leveled by Mudasir. “No army personnel is involved in harassment or manhandling of any civilian. These allegations are totally baseless,” Col Kalia told NewsClick.
Even as such operations have become a norm in the region, what has compounded the worries of the family members is that this is not the first time Mudasir is in the middle of a “life-threatening” situation.
Earlier last year on December 24, Mudasir was working in his factory, which he runs at the Industrial Estate in Khunmoh, South Kashmir, when an Army officer visited him for questioning.
“He asked for all my details and personal credentials like name and address; then, he told me that I will be killed someday,” Mudasir said recalling the incident that left him shell-shocked.
On the same day, the Army raided his Wanabal home and claimed to have recovered a packet of cannabis from his backyard. “The Major came to the local police station the next day along with the alleged recovery; however, after a detailed discussion with the local SHO, they let me go. The officer later acknowledged that he was misguided,” Mudasir said.
But the latest incident this week has renewed his fear of a possible “conspiracy” against him.
From last week, the forces have been launching CASOs in various Srinagar areas like Habba Kadal, Barbershah, Soura, and other localities during which locals claimed damages to their property and in many cases, protests broke out leading to clashes, according to eye-witnesses.
According to Srinagar-based human rights group Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), as many as 107 Cordon and Search Operations and Cordon and Destroy Operations (CADOs) were conducted in J&K between January 1 and June 30 and reported “vandalism” and “destruction” of civilian properties. Therefore, Mudasir’s case is not an isolated one.
Like Mudasir in the city, excessive use of force, harassment and coercion tactics have been reportedly used against people in rural Kashmir as well, especially South Kashmir. The police and armed forces, however, refute these claims.
After he joined militant ranks, Nadeem Malik, a resident of Shopian, sent out an audio message in which he claimed “harassment” at the hands of the police officials posted in his native village. Malik was killed earlier in June within a month of joining the militant ranks.
But, in many cases, especially in the rural South, people choose not to speak against the excessive use of force from the government forces fearing reprisal, which, they see only inevitable amid the endless CASOs.