Asking Fidayeen for car keys & laptop bag

  • Naseer Ahmad
  • Publish Date: May 3 2016 11:04AM
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  • Updated Date: May 3 2016 11:45AM
Asking Fidayeen for car keys & laptop bag

Employees at EDI talk about their run-ins with militants before the three day encounter began

Even in the worst kind of adversity only a Kashmiri can think of survival. Imagine you are caught in a fierce encounter. Your life is at threat and you are looking for car keys and mobile phones and you are asking Fidayeen that you have to get car keys.   
This happened after three militants, who carried out attack on paramilitary Centre Reserve Police Force (CRPF) on February 21, entered sprawling main building of Entrepreneur Development Institute (EDI).  That time over 100 employees and students were in the building.   
 One of the employees Abdul Rouf Khan, a trainer in the EDI, loves to talk about the incident now. 
 He says when he opened the door of his room he saw a militant with weapons. The militant, he said, told them to drop their mobile phones and vacate the building. Khan with his other colleagues moved out from the room as directed by the militant. But in the middle of the second floor he realized that he has dropped his mobile phone at his table. 
“I went back to my room to get mobile. I thought when my mother will hear about the encounter and would call me she would die if there will be no response from my phone. That is why I went back,” he said. He said the militant didn’t tell him anything. “I don’t know whether he saw me taking my mobile phone or not,” he said.
 One of the employees Ashfaq Ahmad was also in second floor. 
 “I had left my laptop bag in my room. I had my driving licenses, car keys, laptop in it. So I told the militant that I had to get the bag as car keys are in it,” he said. Ashfaq goes back to his room in the third flood to take his bag.
 After leaving the main building the employees rushed toward another building of the EDI called Jehlum. The Jehlum is at the backside of the main building. All the employees assembled there. The Special Operation Group (SOG) of Jammu and Kashmir Police evacuated them. 
 “We were reluctant to move into the SOG vehicles as we thought we would be caught in cross-firing. But after police assured us that the vehicles are bullet proof and we jumped in,” said another employee. 
Four days after the encounter at the EDI, the authorities had closed down the institute for outsiders. A sentry at the gate would tell everyone that they have the direction not to allow anyone inside.
 Inside the campus a contractor had started initial work around the main building damaged in the three day long encounter in which nine people including five security force personnel, a civilian and three militants were killed.
 The EDI contractor had erected tin sheets on the outer wall of the building facing towards Srinagar-Jammu highway to hide the structure as commuters would stop to take pictures of the structure with their mobile phones. Some would even take selfies leaving the sentry at the gate puzzled as to why people were doing it. 
Inside the campus the work was on to build a tin-sheet wall around the building so that no one enters it as threat of unexploded left over explosives remains.
 On top floor of the structure smoke was still billowing in some rooms as some employees were trying to see the damage. Each wall and each room of the building has signs of thousands of bullet marks it received during 48 hour long encounter. On each side of third and top floor of the building there are huge holes as scores of grenades were thrown towards the building during the encounter. The top floor of the building has been gutted completely. After the bomb disposal squad cleared the building for assessment of insurance, the insurance officials were moving from room to room to assess the damage.
 Outside the Jhelum building of the EDI, employees of the institute were congratulating each other for being alive.
 A woman employee who had dropped her phone in the room said internet of her phone was used. “I confirmed it that my internet was used till 7: 30 p.m.  I have lost everything. My identity cards, driving licenses and mobile phone,” she told her colleagues as they were putting all details on papers to report losses and missing things to the police.