Residents of Saidpora Sopore have accused the security forces of deliberately destroying their belongings and apple orchards during the course of a 72 hour long encounter in which six militants were killed by the army and police in a joint operation. However, police has rejected the claims of the residents.
Those affected during the course of encounter alleged security forces of inhuman behaviour. They said their residential houses and orchards were destroyed by Police and Army with out any reason or justification. The affected family alleged that 13 kanal orchard was completely destroyed and around 100 fruit tress were uprooted by forces using earth excavation machines.
Ghulam Mohammad Dar S/o Ghulam Rasool Dar and his nephew Khursheed Ahmad Dar said to local news agency KNS that forces during the operation rendered them homeless by acting recklessly, adding “Earnings of our whole life were burnt down to ashes by troops”.
“This has reminded us bitter memories of 1995 when during crackdown various persons in our village were tortured by the security forces and my brother Mohammad Nawab Dar succumbed during torture and that torture also made me physically weak”, said Ghulam Mohamad Dar.
While rejecting the claims that militants were present in their houses, he said, “Our village was under siege for three days. We were asked to come out of our residential houses. There were no militants inside our house when we left. We had heard some gun shots early in the morning at 4 O’ clock. When we came out of the house, Police and security forces burnt our residential houses along with two cowsheds. Forces first burnt cowshed of Ghulam Mohammad Dar and then destroyed the single story residential house by dangerous weapons”, alleged Dar.
“Our joint orchard measuring 13 kanals having around 100 fruit trees were uprooted by using JCB by security forces”, he added.
Khursheed alleged that his residential house and cow shed was also set on fire the next day.
Widow of Nawab, Khatija was not able to speak. “They (Police and Security Forces) killed my husband in 1995 and now they made us homeless, destroyed our fruit trees which was only source of income of our two families”, she whispered.
Meanwhile, Sub Divisional Magistrate Sopore Dr. Sayeed Hanief Balkhi while admitting the uprooting of fruit trees of victims, said, “Two residential houses, two cowsheds have been damaged while uprooting of fruit tress in an orchard measuring 13 kanals have also been witnessed. I along with agriculture and revenue officers visited the area. We found cut down trees in the joint orchard or Khursheed and Dar”.
He said that the sufferers have been shifted into local panchayat and government school buildings. “They were provided 2 quintal ration and two gas cylinders each”, he informed.
However, while talking to KNS, Superintendent of Police (SP) Sopore, Imtiyaz Hussain denied that trees were cut in any orchard. “It is possible that some trees might have received minor damage as some Casper vehicles had to run through these orchards”, he added.
Meanwhile, out of six militants who were killed in Sopore encounter, five were buried by locals at Paanzlah Rafiabad.
Sopore town observed continued shut down on day 3 against the damaged caused to life and property during encounter. Some areas also witnessed minor stone pelting incidents.