By Mohammad Taskeen
Gool (Ramban), J & K, India, (Greater Kashmir): An uneasy calm prevails in this mountainous area of Ramban district, which continued to observe shutdown for the 5th consecutive day today following killing of four civilians and injuries to 42 others in alleged firing by [Indian] Border Security Forces (BSF) personnel.
Closed shops, deserted roads and continuous gaze of onlookers greet one to this once a peaceful village, where a majority population is Kashmiri speaking and those belonging to Gujjar and Bakerwal communities.
Police personnel are guarding the abandoned roads with fear of more protests looming large over the administration, which had to face the public anger the other evening when a peace meeting was organized by the Deputy Commissioner Ramban.
With no protest being held on Monday, local Masjids and benches outsides some of the closed shops remained abuzz with activities. People sat in numbers to discuss the situation, especially when the political leaders have started making a beeline to meet the family members of the victims.
Two cabinet ministers Ali Muhammad Sagar and Choudhary Muhammad Ramzan from National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti visited the village and met the victim families. “This is what is now expected from the political parties. They will come to secure points and shed crocodile tears in order to gain sympathy”, Abdul Salam, a shopkeeper in Sangaldan area said.
People here believe that the killing of four innocent civilians could have been averted had the district administration acted in time.
“The role played by the former Deputy Commissioner Ramban was shocking. He made the situation worse with his prejudicial approach”, another resident, who preferred not to be named, said. The locals said that the “struggle for justice” may not last longer in the village, where most of the people work as labourers with the ongoing railway construction work. “There is no alternative but to resume work as we need to feed your families,” Sartaj, a 50 year old labourer said.
SAGAR, RAMZAN ATTEND CHAHARUM Meanwhile, on the instructions of the Chief Minister, the Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Ali Muhammad Sagar accompanied by the Minister for CA&PD and Transport, Choudhary Muhammad Ramzan today attended the Chaharum and Fateah Khawani of the persons killed in police and BSF firing in Gool area.
The ministers, accompanied by the Director General of Police Ashok Prasad, flew to the village this morning. While interacting with the people and members of bereaved families, the Ministers assured them that irrespective of the status, action would be taken against those responsible for the killings. They said FIR has already been lodged in the police station and the guilty would be brought to book. The Ministers appealed the people to maintain calm and peace. “It is tragic that some vested interests are politicizing this tragic incident in which precious human lives have been lost”, they added.
INNOCENT KILLINGS A MORAL CHALLENGE: MEHBOOBA
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti also visited the village alongwith Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Muhammad Sartaj Madni and Peerzada Mansoor Hussain MLA. The delegation met the family members of the victims and expressed condolence and grief on behalf of the party.
Interacting with the people, here, the PDP president said that Gool carnage and incidents like that present a moral challenge to government of India and the people of the country.
The government forces are treating people of Jammu and Kashmir as enemies and training their guns on them as they would target the enemy soldiers in a war, she alleged. She said it is unimaginable that any security force, that is deployed primarily for the safety of people, could act so “atrociously and gun down innocents and unarmed civilians” as was done in Gool. She said it seems the people of the state have been deprived of all fundamental rights including right to life, right to expression and even the right to protest.
Describing the state government as a costly liability Mehbooba said it could not run away from its responsibility to govern and ensure safety of the people by creating a ridiculous line of distinction between it self and the security forces or police.
Demanding an inquiry into the act of sacrilege which led to trouble Mehbooba said it should be investigated along with the cold-blooded murder of four peaceful citizens. Mehbooba expressed concern over the targeting of the youth in Gool and other areas of Chenab valley who are being booked by police for holding protests against killings and sacrilege. She said it was a cruel irony that the state government instead of taking action against those who committed the crime is now going after the mourners and peaceful protesters.