Monday, February 23, 2009

They kill and say sorry

My colleague in Greater Kashmir Arif Shafi Wani captures scene after murder and mayhem in Sopur area of Kashmir. Photos by Mubashir Khan 

Bomai (Sopur), Feb 22: Benumbed by shock, Zareefa Begum, continuously gazed at the splattered pieces of flesh, hair and bloodstained shoes of the victims, including her nephew, Muhammad Amin, and dozens of cartridges near a Chinar tree where Army had gunned down two youth on Saturday evening. 

 Throughout the day, the villagers guided the journalists to the site named ‘death spot’ after yesterday’s incident. As hundreds of people jostled to have a glimpse of the slain youth, Zareefa could not control her emotions. She broke down, wept copiously and then narrated the sequence of events.  
 She said that she was near the spot when the firing took place. “Eight troopers alighted from their vehicle and asked the three youth, including my nephew, Muhammad Amin Tantray, moving on the roadside to raise their hands. Without any provocation, the troopers suddenly fired indiscriminately on them and they fell down,” she said.  

With tears trickling from her eyes, she said, “While another youth died on the spot, Amin was hit by a volley of bullets on chest. He was writhing in pain and screaming for help. Without caring for my life, I ran towards him and hugged him. I pleaded before the troopers to let me rush him to the hospital but they didn’t leave the spot until he was dead,” she said with moist eyes. 

Another villager, Ghulam Rasool, said the troopers fired without ascertaining the identity of the youth. “Everything seemed pre-planned. They executed the killings in just 10 minutes. We were so horrified that we could not even offer water to dying youth,” he said. 
 The villagers said soon after the incident an army officer reached the spot. “He apologized for the killings and asked us to forget the incident as an accident. When we refused, he threatened us of dire consequences. “My troopers have committed sin and you should forgive them. Don’t protest against us otherwise one by one, we would teach you a lesson,” the locals quoted the officer as saying.
 Locals said that after close scrutiny of the cartridges scattered on the spot, it came to fore that the troopers had fired over 100 bullets on the trio.
 “They snatched my beloved,” said Muhammad Afzal, brother of the slain youth, Muhammad Amin. 
 Afzal said he had talked to his brother barely half-an-hour before his killing. “I told him I won’t be coming home and to take care of parents. Little did I know that it was my last meeting with him,” visibly shocked Ashraf said. 
 The locals accused the army of unleashing reign of terror in the village. They said Police Post Bomai is located barely 100 metres from the spot. “But the cops are so scared of the troops that they reached there after one hour,” they said.
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