Serving Human Shield for Indian Army: A Daily Affair for 15 Years.
It was winter of 2007, I was in B.Sc. 2nd year and our exams were going on. On a chilly winter morning we heard announcements from the loud speakers of our mosque about our village being under Crackdown and being well versed with the meaning and the process of the Crackdown, everyone (men, women and children) came out, leaving houses along with each and every door and window opened. Every almirah, every box, every thing is supposed to be left open for army will come later and frisk each and every corner of each and every house. Even a chicken coop will not be left without scrutinizing its all the four corners. Wherever a cemented floor or path would be found, it will be tested for the sound that it makes and upon suspicion we have to dig it up to show that there is no secret hideout beneath that. This was the 7th such Crackdown (yes, we do keep an account of how many in which village) in my village and one after a long gap. During 1990′s it was not that much of a concern for me because as small kids you would be most of the times left untouched, but that unfortunate day in 2007 it was my turn to serve as the human shield. As a 20 year old, I had grown up enough by then and was in college. So I was handed a big black torch along with one of my cousin brothers Hilal Mir and we frisked nearly quarter of the houses of our village. We would enter each and every house while army men would stop outside, when inside the houses we were supposed to come out through each and every window and give a signal to army men in the compound that the house is clear. Then army men would come themselves inside and check everything to their satisfaction. Luckily that day army had wrong information and none of their targets was present in our village and I came out alive out of each and every house I frisked for army.
It was a time when Eid-ul-Adha (Bakri Eid) was very near and people had prepared for the same. Almost every house had different types of Bakery and cookies and army men ate them shamelessly. Yes, they steal eating items as well apart from killing us. Every single person that I know of who was more than 15 years old anytime between 1990 and 2005 has either had exactly the same or an experience akin to this during his lifetime in Kashmir. There have been numerous cases where the persons who were used as human shield never returned back from the search operations if it turns out that army’s information about the presence of militants in that area was true and that they were hiding in one of the buildings that was to be searched. For 15–20 years, four generations of Kashmiris have served as human shield for Indian army and yet nobody on the planet knows about it. I am writing about my experience almost a decade after it was brought upon me and I will write more.
Thanks for reading.