Kashmir Ground Report: Fear, pro-freedom sentiment runs deep after EC cancels Anantnag bypolls

Srinagar: A gun-wielding man stepped out from a single-storey house, just a few kilometers from the square that witnessed youths raining stones on the police. The gunman asked a woman with chapped lips, a dishevelled man and their anxious children not to venture out of the house. The presence of a stranger inside the courtyard of BJP worker Ghulam Ahmad Nengroo in the Prichoo village of Pulwama, evoked suspicion and fear. His neighbour had been fired upon by unidentified gunmen on Monday and is still under critical care at the SMHS Hospital in Srinagar.

In the south Kashmir area of Pulwama — part of the Anantang parliamentary constituency, pro-freedom sentiment runs deep. A youth named Nisar Ahmad Mir set off for a stroll on Monday, when he was fired upon by unidentified gunmen. Nisar’s sister, Meema Jan, didn’t want to to be photographed or filmed fearing that she may face the fate of her brother. Outside their house, sitting cross-legged on a verandah, she said that her brother was not associated with any political party. Superintendent of Police, Pulwama, Rayees Ahmad, said that Nisar was shot at by militants.

Representational image. AP

Representational image. AP

"We are investigating that whether the motive of the militants was that he was associated with any political party or if they believed that he was working for security agencies. We have reports that he was associated with the BJP — these are however being ascertained," said Ahmad.

In the dusky Monday evening, Manzoor Ahmad Nengroo, heard the gunshots and ran for cover. "I left my shop open and ran towards my house," he said, "I thought it was an encounter. But as only a few rounds were fired, I returned from my home to shut down my shop."

Nisar had received one bullet in the abdomen, another in the hand and other one in the leg. Meema said that he has been shifted to the general ward from the intensive care unit (ICU) of SMHS, but still remains under critical observation. "My brother was working as a plumber and had a backache for the past few months due to which he was unable to walk around and was bed-ridden. He had recently recovered from his ailment before he was fired upon. We shifted him to the Pulwama Hospital from where he was later referred to the SMHS Hospital for treatment," she said.

Bashir Ahmad Bhat, who sat outside his tailor shop, in the main market of Prichoo, said "no one knows who shot at Nisar". He said that no one supported the BJP worker Ghulam Ahmad Nengroo. "Who knows who is who here?" he asked in reference to the BJP worker, "He is on his own. No one supports him. Mainstream political parties have not carried out any rallies here."

A few kilometres away from Prichoo, in the main market of Pulwama, masked youths resorted to heavy stone-pelting on the police deployed near the local police station. Hundreds of youths poured out into the streets as colleges and schools closed, forcing the shutdown in the market as the forces resorted to use of tear smoke shells to disperse the demonstrators. Pro-freedom sentiments ran deep in Karimabad, which had remained the epicentre of protests last year after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant commander, Burhan Wani.

Aaqib Ahmad Pandit, 23, showed his scarred hand, recounting that he had run away after the police raided his village last year in September and received injuries as he clambered up a house that was fenced with iron sheets. He said that the police and the army raids have become more common in the past few days to look for those who 'have been implicated in the incidents of stone-pelting'.

"The government forces have been unnecessarily harassing us. They came last year, yelling at us and broke our window panes," he said. Sixty-seven-year-old Ghulam Nabi said that the Indian government had not fulfilled its promise to give the 'people of Kashmir the right of referendum under the UN Resolutions'. "People here want nothing less than azaadi from Indian rule," he said. A shopkeeper, Riyaz Ahmad Pandit, said, "People would have boycotted the elections in Karimabad if they were not cancelled. Government forces are committing excesses against us. They are harassing us. They are implicating people in stone-pelting cases even when they were not involved."

Updated Date: May 04, 2017 08:07 AM

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