Inside the minds of virulent stone-throwers

Moazum Mohammad

 

Srinagar: It has been three months since tall and plump Irfan Ahmad,18, has seen his ailing mother. Even his mother has undergone surgeryat a local government hospital. But little does Irfan know anything ofit. He is on move relocating from one relative to another even theplaces where he had not been anytime before. This hiding has cost himhis meagre income of 2000 at a provisional store as a salesman, thoughit could have hardly sufficed his needs given his economicallyimpoverished background.

On a short notice from his fellows he emerges out on streets to target police, paramilitary forces. He has been accused of attacking paramilitary forces bunker involatile old city where he also resides. On June 24 a Police partyraided his house and took his father in their custody as a pressureon Irfan for a surrender. The police trick worked though hisfather was not harmed in lock-up.  “For eight consecutive days I wastortured and harassed by police. Electric shocks were given to my sesitive body parts. This harassment is in my heart and it grew moreanger in me against them ,” says Irfan. Irfan was booked under Public Safety Act was  for alledgely participating in protests and stone throwing.

He is one among hundreds of protestors who call themselves as‘sangbaaz’ or stone pelters. They don’t carry any weapon except shrillpebbles in their hands and through this weapon they have derived theirname. Though they know they are fighting with an archaic weaponagainst automatic rifles still they choose it as ‘weapon ofresistance’.  They assumed that gun has failed to put across theirpoint at international community only branding them as “terrorists”.

“Now everyone supports our just cause of freedom struggle due to thistransition,” says 19 year old Asim Mushtaq, student of Bachelors inmanagement in a local college.Asim hails from a well to do family and son of a renowned businessmanof the valley; he has fled his home at Bhagat Barzullah in uptownSrinagar city since Wamiq Farooq’s killing in January.  The police areon hunt to trace him. Sporting a whiteskull cap and a thin beard on his face Asim says ,“whenever police raids into my house they harass my parents saying weare going to provide Azadi to your son. Every luxury is at my disposalbut only peace is missing from my life and that peace will return onlywhen Kashmir will be freed.”

The valley is on the knifes-edge since June 11 when a teenager TufailMatoo fell to a teargas canister in old city Rajouri Kadal Srinagar.Since then the cycle of violence has not relented as one death lead toanother.  Majority of them have been youngsters, born and raised intwo decades turmoil.

To tackle this stone throwing which has lead to disruption in normallife in the valley for past three months, police launched crackdown inseveral areas, night raids and informers to track protestors but to noavail. Even the police crackdown seemed a flashback of 90’s when itwas a usual phenomenon to search militants. But stone pelting stillpersisted despite killings, arrests, and harassments. Hardlinerseparatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s appeal to cease stone pelting wasresented by ‘sangbaaz’. “We respect Geelani sahib but not his appeal.Stone pelting has created ripples in political circles of India. It isthe stone which has evaporated Omar Abdullah’s government,” a group ofyoungsters who participated in stone pelting opined.

Majority of stone pelters have deserted their homes  to evade arrests and continue stone throwing. And several of those who have been detained in lastthree months have been bailed out by the higher ups of police.“We evade police as this tehreek is of youth. We have given our blood to our movement and separatists leadersacknowledge us. Even, Mirwaiz echoed in Lal Chowk HumaraTurjuman. Naujawan Naujawa,” stresses Asim.

Like Irfan and Asim and many others, Sameer Khan has not  been to his home for past one month. Hecelebrated Eid protesting on roads, raising a green coloured flag atthe commercial hub Lal Chowk’s clock tower. He was released fromCentral Jail recently but Police is on hunt to track him as six FIRS’are registered against him in several Police stations on charges ofstone throwing for past two years.“Police calls on my family phone number regularly. But this harassmentis not going to stay me away from participating into protests andstone throwing rather it has made my determination more resolute,”says 5th grade dropout Sameer from Hyderpora.Though the release of Sameer was secured by a police official who wasgiven assurance by his father, a carpenter, that he won’t participatein protests anymore but he is reluctant to get rid off stone pelting.‘It is impossible for me to cease stone throwing as it highlights ourcause for which we are ready to sacrifice our lives’.

 

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About theparallelpost
The language of words is more heavenly than the language of tongues and lips. The Parallel Post is a forum to offer a space for people who dare to speak through their words. The intention is to create an environment to share in words what we perceive in our minds...

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