Doda, Jammu and Kashmir. | Image Courtesy: Flickr
Doda: Ten days after the curfew which started on August 5, Naayar who was on his way to check on his shop, offered a walnut to an Army personnel, who blatantly rejected it. Affronted by the rejection, Naayar said: “Aakhrot hai jenab, bomb nahi (It is a walnut, not a bomb.)”
Today, the same Army personnel sips tea with Naayar at his shop at the main market in Doda in Jammu region. “We have become friends. He shares his frustration. He can’t talk to his wife and kids. I do understand. We don’t discuss politics. Personally, he is a nice man,” Naayar told Newsclick.
Residents of Doda, who are living under the barrel of Army guns, have various stories to share about their interaction with uniformed personnel.
Abdul (name changed) told Newsclick that a few Army personnel hacked the WiFi of a nearby house to use the internet so that they could video call their families. “Every afternoon, around 3-4 p.m, Army men gather near a petrol pump and use WiFi and talk to their families. The spark in their eyes is very evident when they talk. They themselves told us that they hacked the WiFi,” he said.
Even as anger is simmering among people since the abrogation of Article 35A and the consequent militarisation of Jammu & Kashmir, locals in Doda claimed that Army men themselves were frustrated. “Twenty days after the curfew, when I came out of my house, I was shocked while interacting with some Army men. Many had no idea why they were here. A few of them said they thought there were elections which is why they had been sent,” said human rights activist, Naseer Khora, from Doda.
Many residents believe the Army is being exploited under the Narendra Modi government. “Look, Modi gathers votes on three cards – Kashmir, Army and Ayodhya. Army has been exploited by the Modi government. Although, I loathe the Army but if you ask me personally, they are individually oppressed. My religion teaches me to understand the sufferings of another individual,” said another Doda resident, wishing anonymity.
It is a fact, however, that deployment of the Army in huge numbers has created fear among the people.
“The way the Army behaves, it seems they have been told that we are terrorists. They look at us as if they will kill us right away. Yet, there are a few Army personnel who have openly shared their frustration with us. They are unable to contact their families and hail from very poor backgrounds. They belong to villages where there is no electricity. They are saving their jobs by oppressing fellow humans,” added Khora.