Three Kashmiri youths have been “thrown out” of their rented accommodation in Punjab’s Zirakpur after police allegedly asked them to leave the place. The three were evicted hours after about a dozen policemen came to their house to verify their credentials on Sunday.
“The policemen asked if we are Kashmiri and told us ‘yahan kuch karne aate ho aur wahan kuch aur karte ho’ and then asked us if we had any weapons,” said Tajamul Imran, 25, who recently completed his MBA. “The police first said that it is a usual verification but then they searched everything. They opened our bags, turned our bed… scattered our books. I do not know what they were looking for but it was more than torture.”
Imran said that the police called the broker, who had helped them get accommodation, to remove them. His classmates, Mudasir and Asif, had shifted to Zirakpur from Mohali on April 24. “We have been living for two years in Punjab. We came to Zirakpur because Mohali was far from our college. All of us gave our identity papers including Aadhaar to the broker for verification,” said Imran. He feared they would be killed in a fake encounter when the policemen began searching their apartment.
“They abused us and it was just short of beating. A police officer even said that whether we had any FIR registered against us in Kashmir. I told them they can verify.’’
The three requested their landlord to give them some time until they can find another accommodation. But he allegedly refused to budge and forced them to leave the apartment hours later. “The police had already called the broker and landlord. They said that they understand our problem but the police has said they (broker and landlord) would be held responsible if anything happens in the area.”
The three have been living with their friends in Zirakpur and Mohali since Sunday. “Our documents were clear. There are 50 families there. It should have been done equally,” said Mudasir. “Till today, I thought Kashmiri students exaggerate when they talk about harassment outside Kashmir. I know the reality now.”
The broker, Satwinder Pal, claimed that the three left on their own. He confirmed that the police had called him. “Their rent agreement was complete but they had told me they wanted to leave. The police did not tell me anything. They just called to confirm whether I was the broker.’’
Zirakpur station house officer Pawan Kumar denied allegations of harassment. He said that the checking was carried out under his supervision. “We carried out checking at all societies in the town on Sunday on the instructions of senior officers.’’
SSP Kuldeep Singh Chahal refuted allegations that the Kashmiri youth were targeted specifically. “Usually police carry out checking in the morning so that they can meet both tenants and the landlords.’’ He added that the landlord will be booked for not getting the tenants verified.
The alleged eviction came two days after Home Minister Rajnath Singh asked states to provide a “comfortable environment” to Kashmiri youth studying or working outside Jammu and Kashmir.