Oct 21 2007
Marsary, (Kupwara), Oct 20: Anti-army, anti-India, and pro-freedom demonstrations for the second day Saturday against the cold blooded murder of a teacher by soldiers were revolutionary in scale with people accusing the soldiers of torturing the teacher to death.
The people said the murder was pre-planned because the teacher, Abdul Rashid Mir, had objected many a time to the obscene comments passed by a Major, a Subedar, and other soldiers at his female colleagues who always accompanied Mir.
The teachers of Government Middle School Marsary say that Mir used to accompany female teachers so that armymen wont tease them on their way to school.
Enraged by the armys claim that the teacher was killed in accidental fire from a soldiers rifle while being searched, several eyewitnesses told Greater Kashmir how the teacher was badly tortured to death. In fact, the protesters said, the teacher was beaten to death and later fired upon to pass it off as an accidental death due to misfire.
They (soldiers) had gagged his mouth and he couldnt even scream when they were beating him up with gun butts, kicks and sticks in the forest, said Gulshan, who was watching the soldiers beating Mir from veranda of her house.
She said, Soldiers had formed a ring around him and from the veranda of my house I saw him writhing due to onslaught from all sides.
According to Gulshan, the silence was broken by two gunshots.
Panic gripped the village after gun shots were fired, Gulshan said, adding that gunshots brought residents mostly women out of their houses and they ran towards the soldiers.
The other women who were standing next to Gulshan said that soldiers didnt allow them to come close.
Hajra, 75, said, I asked them have you killed anybody. They said No, we are for your security.
We resisted, but our resistance infuriated the soldiers and they pointed their guns at us and chased us away, Hajra said.
We could make out from their actions that they were trying to conceal something from us, she said.
She said that as women were assembling in the village they heard an announcement from the Masjid loudspeaker. A man has been murdered by the soldiers in the forest and now they are trying to dispose off his body. Please come out of your houses.
After the announcement was made people came out of their houses and rushed towards the soldiers, the residents said.
They said soldiers who were led by a Major and a Subedar were not more than 10 in number. They fired in air to disperse us, but we didnt relent. Seeing us approaching they tried to take the body along with them in a vehicle, but we snatched it from them, said Hajra.
After we saw the badly maimed body of Abdul Rashid we couldnt control our outrage and we ran after the soldiers. They fled leaving behind the vehicle, which we later torched, the residents said.
They said from the spot they picked up nearly three kilograms of flesh chopped off from Mirs body.
This correspondent saw blood stains on the rocks where Mir was tortured, and also the sticks and the rope that were used to torture him.
Iqbal Ahmad Payyar, Mirs colleague, said, Ten days back Mir, me and other colleagues had an argument with the Major because they always passed obscene comments at our female colleagues. Two days later the Major came to our school and called us to his post. At the post he asked us to apologise for daring to argue with them, but Mir didnt apologise and he spoke against the misbehaviour with our female colleagues at the post also.
Payyar said the matter was settled and both the sides were pacified. While seated in a Sumo vehicle on Friday morning I saw Mir and asked him to come along, but he said he would walk to the school. Usually we used to go to the school in a group, but yesterday Mir went on his own. When I reached the school he wasnt there, Payyar said.
The two female teachers whom the soldiers were teasing refused to talk to this correspondent. Weve already lost one of our sons we dont want any more causalities, the residents said.
They said that since Friday Army is trying to build pressure on them and is constantly threatening them. We are being directed to keep our mouths shut, the residents said.
We are no more safe and we are thinking to quit our jobs, the colleagues of the deceased teacher said.
They said Major of the unit has threatened to kill ten more people if they raise their voice. Its our rule here and what we say you will have to follow that, Mirs colleagues quoted Major as saying.
The cold-blooded murder of the teacher evoked violent protests in Rawatpora, Kralpora and other adjoining villages.
Thousands of people took to the roads and clashed with the policemen who were deployed in strength in the area. In the police action and mob retaliation at least 20 people were injured.
Protesters fought pitched battles with the cops till late Saturday afternoon and refused to bury the body.
Six critically injured persons in the police action were being treated in a small room of Sub District Hospital Kralpora.
Javed Ahmed, who doctors, said was suffering from head trauma accused policemen of pushing him down from a slab of a shop.
Cops pushed me down, Javed said.
His friend who was standing next to him said that after he was pushed down cops didnt allow them to take him to a hospital for more than half an hour.
Muhammad Sultan of Batpora who had been hit by a teargas shell said, They (cops) used indiscriminate force against the people.
Burnt teargas smoke shells and rocks were spread in the radius of more than 2 kilometres in Kralpora.
Protesters raising anti-India, anti-Army and pro-freedom slogans made several attempts to break the police cordon near Kralpora Chowk and march ahead but cops prevented them from doing so by firing several teargas canisters.
Some of the injured protesters were identified as Jehangir Ahmed Mir, Muhammad Salim Malik ,Muhammad Gulzar ,Wali Muhammad Mir, Muhammad Zaman Mir,Arshida Majid ,Wali Muhammad, Javed Ahmed ,Ghulam Mohudin Peer, Bashir Ahmed, Javed Ahmed , Mubashir Ahmed , Javed Ahmed ,Muhammad Sultan Mir, Ashiq Hussain and Imran Lone .
Deputy Commissioner Kupwara Afsandyar Khan reached the spot and held negotiations with the people. As soon as Khan reached he spot he showed the FIR copy to the elders. Police has registered the FIR no. 147/07 Under Section- 302 against the accused Major and the Subedar, Khan told them, Now bury the body.
The villagers didnt relent they told Khan till he doesnt fulfil their other demands they wont bury the body. Other demands of the villagers included transferring the incharge of the police post Kralpora, setting up of a police post at Marsary, release of the protesters who were arrested and recording of the statement of witnesses before the Magistrate, providing a job to the next of the kin and arresting the accused.
The villagers accused Chowki Officer of not paying any heed towards their complaint when they approached him on Friday.
After we came to know that Rashid hasnt reached the school we rushed to the police post and pleaded before the Chowki officer to accompany us to Marsary. He refused and made us wait till his higher officials reached the spot, villagers said, adding, We dont want such an irresponsible police officer here.
The Deputy Commissioner assured the protesters that all their demands would be met.
After the assurance from the DC the villagers agreed to bury the body.
Later thousands of people amidst pro-freedom slogans took the body of Abdul Rasheed Mir from Kralpora to his native village in form of a procession.
Pall of gloom descended over Rawatpora, some 15 kms from Kupwara, as soon as the body reached there, women, children and men came out wailing. Punish the killers, shouted mourners.
Torture marks on Rashids body made mourners scream louder and they kept on wailing even after the murdered teacher was laid to rest.
Army has arrested a soldier in connection with the murder of the ReT teacher Abdul Rashid Mir.
Superintendent of Police Kupwara Vijay Kumar told Greater Kashmir, As the Army has ordered court martial, we have learnt that they have detained one soldier in connection with killing.