Prayers had barely finished when the teargas was fired and a trail of smoke arched in the sky. Security forces had launched another assault on Anchar, the only major pocket of resistance in Kashmir. Teargas and pellets were fired into a park near to the shrine where crowds were attending prayers, she said.
She said the assault, on 30 August, lasted five hours. A heavy troop presence, a communication blackout and widespread detentions have mostly prevented large protests.
Paramilitaries control every inch of Srinagar, except Anchar. Residents, mostly creative artisans who weave pashmina shawls, have used JCBs to dig trenches around the neighbourhood. Tin sheets, waste containers, mesh wires and logs have been placed as barricades. At night, teams keep watch to spot if security forces are approaching. It is thought to be the first time in recent decades that civilians in Kashmir have prevented Indian paramilitaries and local police from entering an area.
Entire families join in with the efforts. Two, so our homes are not ransacked. Three, so the honour of our daughters and women is not violated. Like many women, Saima, 22, the eldest daughter, ran to help those defending Anchar.
Saima and two of her sisters — year-old Maysara and year-old Qurat — were wounded by pellets during the assault. Qurat was wounded in the head. Saima was hit on the neck and arms. She was treated at the shrine late in the evening by doctors who had been smuggled into the neighbourhood.
They administered painkillers and injections to prevent infections. The communications blackout means people have no idea if their relatives are safe. Phone and internet services were suspended last month when the government in Delhi made its revocation announcement. Some landlines have since been restored but these remain unreliable.
Few in Kashmir know about the scale of events in Anchar, and few in Anchar dare to leave their neighbourhood. Public transport also remains shut. Rules that prevented outsiders from buying land in the territory also disappeared. In Anchar, posters of fighters are pasted across shuttered shops. The Indian government has said its actions will rid the state of terrorism and bring development.
It maintains that the situation remains calm. What normalcy is this? Jamia Masjid is locked. If this is just the beginning, what will they do afterwards? He said he would continue to take part in the night watch. At night-time, groups of youths are stationed along routes into the city. More than pellets were lodged in his body, neck and head, he said. When I was hit it was like a hundred needles had pricked me.
Khatija, his mother, said her heart trembled every night as she feared another raid. Facebook Twitter Pinterest. Topics Kashmir. India Pakistan South and Central Asia news. Reuse this content. Most popular.