The destruction in the police station in Damhal Hanjipora is reminiscent of the rage that erupted following the killing of Burhan Wani on 8 July, reports The Indian Express.
The government has used this as an example to show how the violent intervention of the armed forces lead to several civilian deaths and serious injuries.
But what happened on 9 July that prompted the residents of DH Pora to bulldoze the police station and then burn it down? The question remains unanswered.
Police said that a mob attacked the police station and took 20 policemen hostage. Civilians made off with 40 automatic weapons. The police resisted the attack, but no civilians were killed, as per the police reports.
However, the residents’ version of the sequence of events is different.
The Civilians’ Account
About 50 villagers gathered around the house of the Yasmeena Akhter to narrate what happened on 9 July 2016. Yasmeena Akhter was shot that day by a soldier, they told The Indian Express.
That Saturday, at around 10.30 am, there was a procession at the chowk. People wanted to offer a gaibana jinaza (funeral prayers in-absentia) for Burhan Wani. It was peaceful, with slogans for azadi. As the slogans became louder, police, CRPF and the army suddenly attacked mourners and everyone started running. But some of the boys were caught.Shakeel Ahmad, Procession Member
Insha Wani, another local resident, recalls that two army men arrested her 13-year-old brother Moin and beat him up. Accompanied by two others, Insha ran to protect her brother. Yasmeena was the first to reach Moin and when the soldiers opened fire, she was shot.
Yasmeena had enrolled in an ITI course in college and earned money for the family by doing embroidery work, her mother Haseena said.
Her older brother is in the BSF, and posted in Tripura, but we haven’t told him yet. We are afraid. We don’t know what he will do once he learns that the army killed his sister.Haseena, Yasmeena’s Mother
I lifted her on my back. Two more boys helped me carry her. She was bleeding all over me. We ran to the hospital nearby (a few hundred metres away from the spot). The doctor said my sister was dead.Moin-ur-Rehman, Yasmeena’s Younger Brother
Several police and army men came to the hospital and tried to take away Yasmeena’s body. I resisted but they dragged me by my hair down the stairs towards the police station (across the road). I kept shouting that they killed my sister and wanted to take away her body. But the soldiers said they would kill me if I didn’t shut up. Then, they hit me on the back of my head and I passed out.Insha Wani
Zahoor Ahmed, another local, recalls how people marched towards the police station, mourning Yasmeena’s death and how the police fired tear gas shells to drive them away. But soon after the police left, the villagers set the police station on fire and demolished the building with a bulldozer.
The Official Account
When The Indian Express contacted SSP Kulgam M Irshad, he confirmed the family’s account of Yasmeena’s death.
He added that there was stone-pelting at an army camp. Two army vehicles were sent from the camp and when they reached the police station, they saw protesters marching towards them. They opened fire on the protesters, killing Yasmeena.
Responding to claims that the protesters looted weapons from the armoury, the villagers accused the police of lying, saying that once the station was set on fire, everything inside was burnt down.
Nobody went inside the buildings before they were burnt. No policemen was held hostage. They fled. If they had stayed, they would have been burnt alive. Such was the anger. We saw burnt rifles in the debris later.Zahoor Ahmad
SSP Irshad claims that there were 83 weapons in the police station and none went to the militants. He added that 41 weapons were recovered from the police station but all of them were burnt, including the grenades and ammunition.
Police later recovered a few service weapons from local boys.
There is no Hurriyat or militant presence in DH Pora. Those who attacked the station were either PDP or NC voters.SSP Kulgam M Irshad
The villagers claim that the police had been asked to stay away from the protests. The rage among people grew when they killed Yasmeena and tried to snatch her body.
Former NC leader Sakina Itoo blames the government for not handling the situation properly and also alleges that she was not allowed to visit the area.
Such a thing has never happened in our area. There are NC and PDP supporters here. But today, there is no distinction.Sakina Itoo
Whatever the sequence of events that unfolded on 9 July, it has only lead to more death and devastation in the Valley.
(Source: The Indian Express)