CRPF camp removal: Relief, celebrations and painful memories in Srinagar locality

Srinagar: The elderly heaved a sigh of relief and the young celebrated in jubilation.  For one family in Saidapora locality of Eidgah area here, though, the dismantling of a decades-old CRPF camp on Monday stirred up only painful memories.

On October 7, 2016, 12-year old Junaid Ahmad Akhoon was shot by CRPF troopers outside his home in Saidapora, as the Valley was still recoiling from the killing and blinding of hundreds of people by government forces amid months of curfew and shutdowns following the killing of Hizb commander Burhan Wani in July.

Junaid, the only brother to three sisters, had ventured out to see off a relative when the troopers fired hundreds of pellets at his head and chest, his father Ghulam Muhammad Akhoon said. He died the next day at a hospital in Srinagar.

“It seems a few boys were throwing stones. To disperse them, CRPF jawans fired teargas shells and pellets. We are looking into all aspects,” a senior cop had told a newspaper, days after Junaid’s killing.

Locals, however, said that there were no protests or clashes going on near Junaid’s house when he was shot at by the troopers. “He was shot right outside his home. It was a cold-blooded murder,” a local resident recounted.

The ruling People’s Democratic Party’s had demanded a “time-bound probe” into Junaid’s killing.

A PDP spokesman had said the party was “anguished over reports of use of unwarranted force which claimed life of an innocent boy” and the incident “desired” action against the guilty.

“ It’s all the same to us. We die every day,” Akhoon said.

“Our son is gone. It( the removal of the camp) is meaningless for us. We were denied justice. That is the end of it,” he said, holding back tears.

The forces later shelled Junaid’s funeral procession near Eidgah as hundreds took to streets to protest his killing.

Set up by the BSF in early 1990s, the camp was taken over by the CRPF’s 167 battalion later, as bunkers and camps of Indian forces began to dot the length and breadth of Valley.

“It is a good riddance. I still cannot believe that we can now move freely in our area,” said Abdur Rehman Mir, 70, who still remembers the day in 1992 when the forces occupied the building which had once served as a ‘guzar’ or excise check-post and later as a municipal office.

Meanwhile, for the locality’s young, the camp’s removal is a moment to celebrate. 

“Hum ab azad hain( we are free now),” a boy accompanied by his friends said, standing atop sandbags at the site of the dismantled camp.

Junaid’s friends show the holes made by the pellets fired at him by CRPF

 

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