It is better to pick a gun than face humiliation of being looked at as a “threat to the state”, says an angry Kashmiri student who with his two friends was forced out of a rented house in Punjab after a police raid for “hidden weapons”.
Punjab Police denied the harassment allegation, saying the search operation was a routine exercise.
Tajamul Imran, 25, belongs to south Kashmir district of Shopian, a new hotbed of Kashmiri militancy where security forces on May 4 conducted a raid hunting for militants. Imran was sobbing when he spoke to IANS over phone.
“They asked us to show weapons. I thought the policemen were joking,” Imran said, recollecting the three-hour “harassment” the three Kashmiris were subjected to on Sunday morning at the rented flat in Zirakpur, near Mohali.
He said the policemen then frisked them and searched the house and “repeatedly asked where we had hidden the weapons and explosives smuggled” from Kashmir.
“We felt so harassed that my friends and I thought they will kill us and stage an encounter,” said Imran.
“It was 5.40 a.m. and we were sleeping. Two policemen knocked on the door. I saw at least 15 to 16 other policemen who had cordoned off our house.”
Imran, who also heads the All Jammu and Kashmir Students Union, said they were almost made to feel “like militants”.
An obviously angry Imran said: “I think it is better to pick up a gun, because a Kashmiri is always seen as a threat to the state.”
Imran, who completed his MBA from Punjab Technical University’s Swami Vivekanand Institute of Engineering and Technology in November, was to appear for a placement session in the college.
“But I don’t think I can work in any part of India after the incident. We are fearful. I have to return home. My family is not allowing me to stay back.”
He said the police asked their landlord to “throw us out” of the house and the house owner did so without wasting any time.
“The police told the landlord that if any incident happened in Zirakpur area, he would be responsible for that as he had rented the house to Kashmiris,” Imran said, adding he had shifted to a friend’s place after vacating the house.
He said he tried to get in touch with Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s Complaint Monitoring Portal but did not get any response from there.
“As a student activist, I have earlier written about many incidents of harassment of Kashmiri students at various places to the Home Ministry’s monitoring cell for Kashmiri students, but they never responded,” Imran said.
However, a senior officer of the Punjab Police denied that the students were harassed and said the cops were doing “routine checking in the area”.
“There was no harassment at all. We did not know they were Kashmiris. We were doing a routine check in the outskirts of the city,” Kuldeep Singh, Senior Superintendent of Police, Mohali, said.
Singh said the police never asked the landlord to throw the students out of their flat and said the students were creating an issue out of nothing.