[Reader-list] Train to Delhi...somebody writes after all these years

abir bazaz abirbazaz at rediffmail.com
Fri Jan 2 23:37:57 IST 2004

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Train to Delhi: Hell-zone for Kashmiris

Tales of harassed Kashmiris in Delhi-bound trains

GK Special Correspondent

Srinagar, Jan 1: Next time when you board a train from Jammu to other parts of India, be sure you are going to have an ordeal and yet no one to shed any tears for you.

Even as Chief Minister, Mufti Muhammad Syed, is busy waving green flags on Srinagar Muzaffarbad road, Srinagar’s road to Delhi has been painted red for Kashmiris. As if the gruesome murder of Kashmiri singer, Ghulam Nabi Sheikh, in a Delhi-Jammu train was not enough to stir the conscience of the governments in Srinagar and New Delhi, horrifying tales of harassment of Kashmiris in Delhi bound trains pour in every day.

The trouble begins as soon as the trains leave J&K State’s territory. And out of the blue in typical chambal daku style, Punjab police personnel appear in the bogies and begin the hunt for Kashmiris - age, sex, status, position no bar!

The modus operandi is now standard: as soon as a Kashmiri is sighted in a train, he is accused of being a "terrorist" and carried away alongwith his baggage and taken down at the next station. And no explanation of one’s position and status helps. The police gives a stark choice: follow to the nearby police station or pay whatever cash you carry. Choice is predictable for the cops: people pay and evade the trouble. And those who don’t pay go through a hell.

When Saima (22) and her brother Suhail (19) were returning home on Sunday on a vacation from Bangalore, they had never anticipated the misery they would go through.

In the dead of the night when Suhail was dragged from his sleeper by the police somewhere in Punjab, Saima pleaded with the policemen to spare him. And there came the verdict: both brother and sister were "terrorists". The policemen abused and physically assaulted them and yet nobody in the train helped. The co-passengers acted as silent spectators while they were brought down on a railway station alongwith their luggage. Soon the policemen hit the bottom line: they wanted all cash the two were carrying. Suhail and Saima paid Rs 2000 and were let away.

Abdul Karim (38) recently received the news of his brother being terminally ill in South India state of Kerela. Karim hurriedly arranged for a ticket and carried some cash and boarded the train from Jammu.

As he was struggling to sleep in the night, Karim got the call, "Get down from the sleeper."

The standard modus operandi followed and he was relieved of Rs 20,000. Karim reached Kerela after eight days only to offer fateha at the grave of his already dead brother.

The ordeal for common Kashmiris does not end with the trains only. In Delhi while the Delhi police keeps constantly intruding into their privacy everywhere, hotels in the capital are out-of-bounds for Kashmiris since more than half a decade now.

Although the tragic murder of Kashmiri singer, Ghulam Nabi Sheikh, in a train by "unknown assailants" made the Mufti government ask the Punjab government for a probe into the incident, hardly any progress has been made in the investigations so far. Sheikh’s murder has been swept into oblivion and so could be the case with many more Kashmiris, who do not end up paying to cops while travelling in the "red zone."


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