Bhaderwah, Dec 9: A man from a Doda village has alleged that Rashtriya Rifles soldiers and men from some unidentified security agency working for the local Army unit, kidnapped his 24-year-old daughter from a busy market and held her captive for a month before murdering her on December 3.
The dead woman is Shamima Bano of village Assasi Premnagar, 40 kilometers from Doda district headquarters. Shamima had passed her higher secondary school a month before her abduction, said her father Ghulam Hassan.
A Forest Range Officer for Bhaderwah Range, Ghulam Hassan said gunmen in civvies traveling in a van without a registration plate kidnapped Shamima from crowded Prem Nagar Market on November 3. Ghulam Hassan said the kidnappers were soldiers, and gunmen working for them, from the 8th batallion of Rashtriya Rifles, Army's counterinsurgency force.
"She was my only daughter, very gentle. On the night of October 16, three gunmen entered into my house and one of them introduced himself as Javid Iqbal of Zeehand Gath Doda, a Hizb militant. He said he wanted to marry Shamima. When I said this cannot happen, they became furious and threatened me of dire consequences, but they left. My family was very scared and we migrated to Prem Nagar where I rented a room. I immediately informed SSP Doda Manohar Singh about the gunmen who came to my house. He assured me that he would take cognizance of my report. I also lodged an FIR in Police Post Prem Nagar. A few days later Major Kohli from Khankot Post visited my rented residence and inquired about the matter. I explained the whole episode to him," Hassan said.
He said he learnt about abduction of Shamima when he was in Doda in connection with an official work. "I and my son Tariq searched for her but of no avail. I again went to SSP Doda Manohar Singh who assured me that the girl would be recovered soon," Hassan said.
However, a day later, Hassan said, the Brigadier of 4 Sector Rashtriya Rifles summoned him to the Sector headquarters at Sui Gwari. "I narrated the whole story to the Brigadier who instead of listening to me fully abused me and my brother Ghulam Qadir but assured that Shamima would be handed over to us," he said.
Hassan said he waited for the return of Shamima because the Brigadier had assured him she would be handed back to the family.
"Army sent a person to my residence at Prem Nagar and informed that Shamima has committed suicide but her body bore a bullet wound. I got suspicious and I asked Major Kohli who had visited me earlier about Shamima's death. He grew furious and threatened us of dire consequences if we disclosed it to police or any other agency. Army asked us to bury her silently and we did," Hassan said, sobbing. Shamima's body was recovered from Braswana Gundna forests.
Hassan said Doda police did nothing for a month to rescue Shamima. "They came as militants and staged the drama of abduction to defame militants," Ghulam Qadir, Shamima's uncle said, "they used her as a human shield and held her captive in a house at Braswana where militants used to come often. On that day they staged a fake encounter and killed her."
Villagers speaking to this correspondent on condition of anonymity said the army used Shamima as human shield. They demanded a thorough inquiry into the killing and appealed to Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad to order a probe.
Army spokesman Colonel Gautam of Nagrota-based 16 Corps said Shamima died in crossfire. "Militants had held her captive and on that day she died in crossfire while militants escaped," he said.
Manohar Singh, the SSP Doda said, "It is a controversial matter and I can't comment on it. As of now nothing concrete can be said about it; mystery is there."
The Deputy Inspector General of police Udhampur-Doda range Lalit Indu Mohanty, however, said, "The woman was used as a human shield by the militants in whose captivity she remained for about a month and the police is looking in to the pros and cons of the possible involvement of the army."