Releasing his video after joining militancy, Zubair Ahmad Turray, 22, said the decision was forced on him by four year long incarceration and the torture by the security forces. He termed his own story dardnak (heart-rending). Earlier he had fled from the police custody. However, the family and the residents of his town Shopian had refused to believe the police version of his escape. They suspected the worst. The town had gone on an indefinite protest to demand his whereabouts. But on May 15, dressed in Army fatigues with two Kalashankovs and two grenades laid out on the table before him, Turray appeared in a video to declare he had become a militant.
“There was no option left for me. I was imprisoned for the past four years. And I have spent the term equivalent to eight Public Safety Acts (PSAs) in jail, Turray said in the video.
The video went soon viral. One positive fallout was that it brought the protests in Shopian to an end. However, the questions that Turrays decision to pick up the gun raised are crying for answers. Though he had been in jail over the past four years, Turrays intermittent torture and harassment at the hands of government forces goes back to 2008 when he was just Class 8 student. Ever since he has been in and out of the jail. Turray, according to the father Bashir Ahmad, has been booked in 23 FIRs and successive Public Safety Acts. Every time the court quashed a PSA, the government slapped another to prolong his detention, the father has said.
Finally, it was the fear of being booked in yet another PSA that forced Turray to escape from police custody and join militants. Though the High Court had quashed his last PSA detention on February 28 and he was released from the Central Jail, the jail superintendent had told him to report to the Counter Insurgency Kashmir (CIK) wing of police after two days, which he did. But he was again detained and handed over to the police station Shopian.
Turrays case is not new. Before him, scores of youth have traced their journey to militant ranks to the consistent harassment by the security forces. Parents often talk about it to explain their sons decisions to pick up gun. There have also been media reports which have played up this fact. Repeated arrests and the torture turns the lives of the youth hell and they start looking at the militancy as a refuge. One such well known case is that of the Mohammad Abbas Shiekh whose repeated incarceration and the fear of being eliminated in a fake encounter became a factor in pushing him to militancy. In fact, seeing that he had nowhere to go, his own family allegedly advised him to join militancy. And yes who can forget the most prominent of all such cases, that of the slain popular Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. He decided to become a militant when his brother Khalid Muzaffar Wani was beaten by the security personnel at a roadside security camp while the siblings were running an errand. However, this growing incidence of the youth taking up gun to escape the security harassment has hardly sensitized the government towards the need to deal more humanely with the protesters. By not doing so, the government has only contributed to the militancy in Kashmir. The need is to create the political and security conditions which dissuade the youth from making extreme choices.
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