Former army man first loses house then lands in jail for ‘sheltering militants’

KHALID GUL (GK)

A former army man is in jail for two months for allegedly giving shelter to a group of militants who were killed by the forces during a gunfight in his house last year.

Manzoor Ahmad Ganai, 55, who served in Indian army for sixteen years before he retired in 2008 was arrested by J&K police nearly two months after a gunfight erupted at his house in Chowgam village of Devsar in southern Kashmir’s Kulgam district.

He is in jail for two months now.

Five Lashkar-e-Toiba and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen militants were killed in the twelve-hour long fierce gunfight between militants and forces that broke out on September, 15 midnight.

A youth who was among the protesters who tried to disrupt the operation by throwing stones in a bid to help militants escape was also killed in government forces firing while dozens of others were injured.

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Earlier, that autumn night Ganais had woken up after the army, Jammu and Kashmir police and CRPF surrounded their house and asked them to come out which they obliged.

Minutes later as they fled to safety to their neighbor’s house the guns started roaring. The following afternoon the retired army soldier saw his huge three-story concrete house being blown up with heavy explosives by the security forces until it was flattened to the ground.

The guns fell silent and the bodies were retrieved by the forces from the debris of the house that he (Ganai) had constructed soon after his retirement.

According to the family, he spent all his earning on it and the family moved there some six years back.

But the fateful day left them without shelter and the belongings as well.

Ganais eldest son- a postgraduate, middle one- a graduate and the youngest – pursuing a diploma in laboratory technology also lost their books and certificates.

The neighbors, friends, and relatives all chipped in with some help and the family managed to raise a temporary tin shed in their lawn and they lived there.

However, as the cold conditions grew they had no choice but to shift to a nearby relative’s house.

The family was yet to come to terms with this tragic episode when in the middle of the night, the special operation group (SOG) of Jammu and Kashmir police suddenly appeared at the house they are living now.

They took Ganai along to their camp at Aamnoo.

After being interrogated for several days, Ganai was then shifted by police to district jail Mattan in nearby Anantang district.

“It has been more than two months since he was arrested. We have been moving from pillar to post to seek his release without any success,” says the family.

They said he is being accused of giving shelter to militants.

A police official admitted that he (Ganai) was in custody for giving shelter to militants.

“Yes the militants took shelter at our home. But what is our fault in that?” asks his wife Dilshada Akhtar bedridden since a month. She injured her leg during a fall while she was trying to free their relative from the clutches of government forces.

“After the arrest of my husband they raided our relative’s house and picked up my husband’s cousin. As I ran towards them pleading to set him free for he was innocent, I slipped and in the process injured my leg badly. Since then I am confined to bed and hence unable to visit my husband,” she says.

The relative was set free after some days, but Ganai continues to be in detention.

“My husband remained posted outside and would come home once every year. He did this only to give a better life and education to their children. Never would have he thought that he has to see this day,” Akhtar laments.

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