2016 Curfew Diary: Life changing 10 minutes

Abdul Azeem

It was Tuesday of 13th September 2016 when I along with my maternal uncle went to buy a few pieces of luggage for my marriage which was going to be held in the last week of the same month. We reached Bohri Kadal, Srinagar at 6:30 am as knowing that the curfew will be imposed from 7:00 am. The Indian armed forces were deployed daily on the roads and a few days back some ambulances and civilians were attacked by the troops as well.

We had parked our car outside the shop (on the main road) where we were. It was about 6:45 am, and no shop was fully opened but every shop was less than half open. I had bought one piece of luggage and was bargaining for the second one. It was a good environment around the market with no disturbances. We were talking to the shopkeeper and suddenly the atmosphere changed, and it only indicated that the curfew has been imposed today but at an odd time. All the shopkeepers pulled down the shutters of their shops so as to evade the fury of the troops. The shopkeeper in whose shop we were doing the same as others. These were CRPF Troops who started to shout lewd comments which rang up my ears as if somebody was striking my ears with an iron rod. The whole atmosphere of the road changed in a few seconds with their entrance. They had seen us inside the shop and now, they wanted to unleash their total wrath on us, but fortunately, we had already pulled down the shutter. They were abusing every shopkeeper and all those who ran away to take refuge. It was so alarming and a timorous atmosphere for all of us as I was continuously thinking that, what will happen to us if they entered the shop!!. All the time I was feeling so frightful for us all. I was about to fall unconscious but somehow I retained my will to remain alive. The troops ran amok in the area as they smashed the back windows of our car which was outside the shop.

They were in a frenzied state as if they wanted to devour us. All the time the troops were horribly shouting with the motive of striking us by any means. We all remained quiet, bereft of strength & confidence. My throat & tongue had become parched. I was uttering some Qur’anic verses in a feeble voice so as to receive help from the Almighty. It was for the first time in the 2016 Uprising to experience this event full of danger and turmoil.
With time, the shouts disappeared slowly and slowly. For a few minutes we remained in the same state and after that, we heard some Kashmiri voices around. Every shopkeeper brought up their shop shutters and we saw the troops are there and the movement of people had begun again. We felt some respite from the horrible & fearful life-changing event. And then after we left back for home in our car of which the back window was smashed by the troops. Those 10 minutes were very dangerous as if it had come with a daydream nightmare. It serves as a trigger to put me in a state of despondency, whenever I recall this turbulent event. My soul ebbs while recalling those images full of venom against us.

So many stories are being penned down as I write; this is just a page and a memory of the 2016 Curfew Diary, “the diary full of shrieks, dirges, and fearful memories”. This is Kashmir’s story…..

Abdul Azeem is an Independent Researcher & Aspiring Social Worker from the Indian-held Kashmir

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