Body bags of soccer players in IOK
Dr Muhammad Khan
Mudassir, 14 years and Saqib, 16 years, both resident of Hajin Village, Bandipora of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) were martyred on Dec 8, 2018 in Mujgund, about 12 kms from Srinagar by Indian Security Forces in a fake encounter. Though fake encounters in IOK have been in practice since the decade of 1990, however, it has been adopted as an organized strategy since General Bipon Rawat took over as Indian Army Chief on December 31, 2016. General Rawat out-lined salient of this policy in mid February 2017, during his visit to Corps Headquarters in Srinagar. Since then, the Kashmiri youth are marked, chased and finally picked up from their villages, cities or while leaving their educational institutions. They are then taken to torture centres and later killed through fake encounters.
Saqib Bilal Sheikh (1st year student) and Mudassir Rashid Parray (9th class student) though hailed from the same village (Hajin- Bandipora) in IOK but, developed friendship as soccer players. Saqib was the team captain and Mudassir was the goalkeeper of the village’s soccer team. Saqib was fond of becoming an actor and had worked in the Bollywood film Haider alongside Shahid Kapoor as ‘Chocolate Boy’. He comes from a wealthy family, hoping to rise in his future career. Mudassir comes from an average family and had to do jobs alongside his education for helping his ailing parents, a mentally disabled brother and his younger sister.
Their age-fellow and soccer team colleagues had developed greater love for them, since they were excellent human beings besides being the key-players of their village team. However, like every teen-ager in IOK, they too were weary and abhorrent of nonstop brutalities of Indian security forces on innocent people of their village, which they witnessed quite often since their childhood. Their parents and family members had no inclination towards militancy or violence.
On August 31, 2018, while they play soccer, they were called by a motorcyclist, off the playground in the fields. The eye-witnessed say, Saqib and Mudassir were not seen thereafter, until their parents received their body bags in December, 2018. In the process for their search, the poor parents and villagers reached over to everyone; the local police station, the Central Reserve Police of India, Indian Army and even the those having linkages with active resistant groups of Kashmiris, but they could not get a clue of their dear ones. Indeed, they had to pass through a constant state of agony and mourning from August to December 2018.
About the motorcyclist, who took along Saqib and Mudassir, the villagers opined that, they are local Kashmiris, hired, armed and funded by Indian Army to give them indication (clue) of the youth, having anti-India sentiments. They then lure-in the Kashmir youths to Indian spying networks and Indian Army posts, who take them to torture centres where they are executed through fake encounters along with some prominent resistant leader, making headlines for the successes of Indian Army. In this fake encounter too, the eye witnesses say that, Indian Army surrounded an outskirt of the capital Srinagar, and cornered Mudassir and Saqib along with another Kashmiri commander and killed all of them.
The local of this area have not seen these boys, prior to military encirclement of their houses, which clearly indicates that, they were brought into the area in disguise from somewhere else. They cordoned the area and then started the fake crossfire, depicting an encounter. The locals’ masses protested against the military encirclement of the area and firing by Indian Army. The angry “residents tried to march to the site, hurling stones at the troops”.
Upon local resistance, Indian Army troops blasted seven houses, after locals were forced to vacate their houses. Some of these houses were denoted through heavy explosives, some were fired upon through rocket launchers and others were put on fire. This all was done to cover-up the fake encounter, portraying that these boys were hiding in these houses. Detonating and destroying the houses is also part of General Rawat’s strategy for IOK. His orders include; any house hoisting Pakistani flag or whose residents are against Indian rule should be blasted with explosive or simply put on fire to teach them a lesson.
Neither Saqib nor Mudassir was militant; they just hated the Indian Army’s brutalities in IOK and wished for freedom from this inhuman environment. Thousands of Kashmiri youth like Mudassir and Saqib are wishing the same, since enough is enough. Indian Army is on the genocide mission in IOK, killing the youth systematically as a state policy. Indeed, it is holding Kashmir “only by dint of the fact that we have our armed forces there.”
As per former Indian foreign minister, Yashwant Sinha, “Unfortunately, Kashmiri body bags and anti-Pakistan rhetoric sells well in India for gaining votes.” This repression ‘has led to strengthening the resolve of those fighting for an end to Indian rule in Kashmir’. Why should India expect that, Kashmiris will support its rule in IOK? For Kashmiris, “Supporting India is like supporting soldiers killing and blinding children and destroying our homes. Supporting India is just inhumane.”