M T RasoolAloosa (Bandipora):
It was this day on August 13, 2008, nine years ago, when four youth were killed and more than 47 injured after army showered bullets on protesting people in Paribal area of Aloosa Bandipora.
The protesting people who were caught in the rain of bullets were following the ‘Pampore Chalo Call’ following the death the Hurriyat leader Sheikh Abdul Aziz during the Amarnath land row in 2008.
On this fateful day in 2008, troops from the 15 Rashtriya Rifles fired upon a large gathering of protesters, who had assembled in Aloosa Chowk to follow the ‘Pampore Chalo Call’ announced by Hurriyat in view of Amarnath land row. The order of firing according to locals “was given by Commanding Officer 15 Rashtriya Rifles Col Joshi who was a household name in the area at that time”.
“People were marching towards Bandipora, amid pro-Kashmir slogans and when they reached an Army camp near Paribal, the elders in the rally asked all to stop till they persuade army troopers to remove the barricade laid in the middle of the road,” villagers said, adding: “Army didn’t allow this and asked elders to return back along with the crowd and before elders could reach us to inform about the army dictate, the rain of bullets hit the protestors and all started running to safer places,” locals said.
“We were unaware of the army’s brutal attitude, they adopted at that time,” a local who identified himself as Mushtaq Ahmed said, adding: “Army troopers fired in all directions as if they were drunk.”
The four protesters who were killed were Mumtaz Ahmed Bhat, Ali Muhammad, Muhammad Shafiq Ganie and, Mehrajudin Ganie.
“The first volley of bullets hit people in the middle of rally, later trooper started shooting in all directions to contain the protestors at one place to target most number of people, “locals said.
Locals said: “The brutal behavior of the army stunned the entire Aloosa belt.” Locals said that the army officer Col Joshi of the camp was a household name in the area as he used to help people but resorted to killing when people were pleading him to allow peaceful protest.
“It was really a brutal behavior on the part army, we were neighbors of the camp and were pleading the army officer to allow a peaceful protest to pass from the road. The officer was known to all as he used to visit every house in the locality,” said an elderly Muhammad Ishaq.
“He acted according to an army mind and had buried his humanity,” Ishaq said.
We can never forget the fateful day when youth, elders, children, and women were greeted with bullets by army, villagers said.
Narrating the ordeal, Abdul Hameed Dar who was injured during the incident said: “The sound of raining bullets jolted my neighbor when he was taking a glass of water in the protest rally.”
Hameed said he saw one of his neighbors falling dead in the drain and then, seconds later, saw another bullet piercing his chest.
The man cried out for his mother before falling dead in the drain. His name was Ali Muhammad Kahnday, said Abdul Hameed.
As I moved forward another youth Muhammad Shafi Ganie lost his breath after receiving bullet on neck, said Hameed.
The situation disturbed me and I started screaming while witnessing another youth Mehrajudin Ganie falling prey to the bullets, Hameed said.
The fourth youth Mumtaz Ahmed after receiving bullets was found dead in a small stream, he said.
Ishtiyaq (name changed) once an army porter recalled the deep shock that “changed his life” said: “I remember seeing soldiers showering bullets on children, women, elders, and youngsters equally, as if they were on a firing drill, people were running into the paddy fields, streams even many were climbing electricity poles to evade bullets,” he said, adding: “I didn’t see that much because I collapsed on the ground. I think I lost consciousness for a few seconds. What I remember is that after waking up I experienced unbearable pain. I was trying to work out what was happening. By then I knew I had been shot, and I was wondering if I was going to survive.”
That day I decided not work as a porter for the people “who didn’t know the value of life’, he said.