Around midnight on 18 August, the Indian Army and the Jammu and Kashmir Police detained seven people during a joint raid in Saderkoot Bala Malapora, a village in Bandipora district, according to residents. Among the seven were Mohammad Ramzan Ganei, a 40-year-old man and his 22-year-old son, Ishfaq Ahmad. The family said that the security forces in their house also assaulted Murtaza Bilal, an eight-year-old boy, who is Ganei’s grandson and Ahmed’s nephew. As one member of the forces lifted Bilal off the ground, a second member repeatedly hit him on his feet, while a third beat his head with a brick, the young boy recounted. “I had no idea why they were beating me,” Bilal said. Ganei was released ten days later, but Ishfaq still remains in custody.
Since 5 August, Kashmir has been in a state of lockdown after the Indian state read down Article 370 of the Constitution of India to abrogate Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, and downgraded it from a state to a union territory. Over seven million residents have been under a communications blackout and a military crackdown that has led to the arrests of at least four thousand people, according to news reports.
We visited Malapora on 14 September. Within minutes of asking a group of locals about the prevailing situation, we were surrounded by a crowd of men, women and children, each eager to talk about their experiences. It was evident that no journalist had visited the village since the Indian state’s clampdown began.