Palhalan : The Gaza Of Kashmir

 By  Faisal Magray

Palhalan is called the ‘Gaza of Kashmir’, a hillside settlement in the north of  Kashmir. It looks like an idyllic rural spot, where bushels of red chilies hang from the eves of steep-roofed wooden houses and hay wains jostle with shepherds in narrow streets. But the village has been caught up in months of violent protests that have roiled Kashmir. In 2010 an uprising  left over 120 people dead and thousands injured. Youngsters daub anti-India slogans on walls, yell at Indian police and soldiers to “go home”, and hurl stones.

Since July, ten people had succumbed to armed forces firing in Palhalan area. More than 90 have been wounded and hundreds have been arrested. Palhalan is a village where the Jamaat has had strong roots. During the heights of militancy Palhalan became a stronghold of the Hizb, the militant arm of the Jamaat.

When Kashmir was burning in the summer unrest, Palhalan, a village in Baramulla district, 30 km north of Srinagar, embodied that anger. As life returns to a fatigued normalcy in most parts of the Valley, Palhalan still reeled under military control, earning it the epithet of Kashmir’s ‘curfew village’.

Cut off from the rest of the Valley, Palhalan was subjected to two-and-a-half months of curfews, including 39 days at a stretch. Its phone lines were snapped, mobile phone services disabled and outsiders barred. As the death count rose, there were reports of molestations, looting, mosques being ransacked and boys being picked up from paddy fields during work.

 Family of  Adil ramzan sheikh a seventh grader was shot dead by govt forces inside a pattan hosipital.  Adil deaths not the first tragedy to have befallen the sheikhs. His grandfather was shot dead by government gunmen in 1997.

                Mother Of Adil Ramzan Sheikh a seventh grader was shot dead by govt forces inside a Pattan                 Hosipital.

  The mother of feroz ahmaed malik alias Showkat who was shot dead on shabiqadar on September 6,2010. Over a month after Adil’s killing two vehichles carrying police and CRPF personnel came out charging in trantraypora village .They began firing indriscriminately at shopkeppers ,passerby,not even sparing women and children.The casuality of unprovoked firing was 21 years old Feroz Ahamed Malik.

The family of Mohammad Ashraf Mir is still in a state of mourning. Ashraf , a carpet weaver ,was shot dead while rescuing his children from the wrath of forces on the fateful day.Ashraf s Widow Fatima is suffering from severe depression since his death.

Raja Begum , the mother of 28 year-old Ansar Ullah Tantray, an MA English student who was shot dead otside a mosque in Phalhalan.The Abu Alla Mosque ,where ansar was shot dead-with the bullets marks on its walls ,broken windows and shattered glass panes –bears witness to the dance of death and destruction hat played havoc in the village on the fateful day.

                                                       Family of Ghulam Mohammad Waza.

Sitting in the corner of the Room is Ghulam Mohammad Waza. He doesn’t remember the day he married ,nor does he remember the day his eldest son Ali Mohammad was born. All he Remembers is the seven minutes that changed the course of the waza family’s life.

Four- year-old Tehmeena is the daughter of Ali Mohammad Waza, 31, Who was shot dead by the soldiers when he peeped out of the main entrance.Tehmeena tries, unsuccessfully ,to make sense of the sequence of  event that led to her father’s death.

Mudasir Ahamed Mir, 20,was obsessed with azadi. “He wanted to die a martyr. His wish was fulfilled ,but a mother lost her son forever,”says his mother Fatima.

   Father of Mohammad Ashraf Mir

The family of 23 year-old Noor –ud Din Tantray ,who was shot dead while trying to remove an injured youth to hospital. Two hours later ,he died at the SKIMS,Srinagar,due to blood loss,the forces has laid a siege around the area making the pattan hospital ,justv 5kms away from the trouble spot, inaccessible.

Mother Of Noor-ud-din Tantray

                                                 Martyrs Grave yard at Phalhalan Pattan

                Palhalan village has been caught up in months of violent protests that have roiled Kashmir.