Every year on June 11, people in Adhal village of South Kashmir’s Kokarnag town of district Anantnag assemble at one place to remember three villagers who vanished after a cordon and search operation launched by Indian Army in the village 23 years ago.
The middle aged population of the village who were then quite young still remember the day when a villager was beaten to death by Army in front of their eyes.
“It was June 11, 1994 when troops of 36 Rajput Regiment cordoned off Adhall village and a large number of people were asked to assemble in the playground of the local school for an identification parade. During the parade, two youth, Abdul Majeed and Gulam Nabi Ahanger, along with the Imam of the local mosque, Moulvi Muhammed Shaban, were picked up by the troopers and tortured before the huge gathering. The trio were taken to some place in the village for searches and brought back in a half-dead condition. Gulam Nabi was beaten up by several troopers and killed on the spot, while Moulvi Shaban and Abdul Majeed were taken along by the troopers, who were stationed at Larkipora hamlet,” the locals said.
Abdul Majeed Agoo was a government employee working in Public Works Department. “I was just 10 months old when they took away my father. My mother and uncle and fellow villagers have narrated this incident hundreds of times to me and I am eager to know whether my father is dead or alive,” Aamir Majeed Agoo told news agency CNS.
Her mother Afroza said that she was only 24 years old and her son was a ten-month-old baby when 36 Rajput Regiment troops killed a villager in front of people and took two other villagers including her husband Abdul Majeed along with them.
‘My husband was out-spoken and witty. He argued with the Army officer during crackdown and answered his questions without fear,’ and this, Afroza feels, was the reason for his arrest and subsequent disappearance.
She said that Army officer lied to them that apprehended duo will be set free within two days. “Days turned into weeks, weeks into months and months into years and still we don’t know what 36 Rajputana Regiment did to them.”
The villagers are of firm belief that Army have put the duo to death and dumped their bodies at some unknown location or thrown them into the river.
“A formal FIR stands registered against 36 Rajputana Regiment at Police Station Kokarnag, but till date there has been no inquiry and no action has been initiated against the culprits,” said villagers.
“The situation was different those days. The presence of Army used to send chill down the spines. People didn’t even protest, when Ghulam Nabi was beaten to death in front of them. Now the situation has changed and people react. This was not the case in 1994,” said an elderly man who was one the villagers paraded in front of ‘informers’ by Army in the school ground on that fateful day