While the novel coronavirus pandemic has confined people to their houses, the Srinagar encounter on Tuesday left several people homeless.
On Tuesday morning, Nawakadal, a densely populated area in Srinagar, woke up to devastating gunfight between militants and the police forces. The 15 long hours encounter ended after the government forces killed two Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists. But, the encounter, however, left behind a tragic scenario.
Nearly a dozen of houses were destroyed in the encounter, leaving many without even a roof over their head. The residents of the area were asked to evacuate their houses at the midnight and when they came back, everything was damaged, “the forces came around 2.30 am and asked us to move out. We couldn’t even take anything with us. But where could we have gone at that time, so we sat on the road. When we returned, we saw that everything was damaged and destroyed. There was nothing left,” said a local woman. Taking this in account, Haseeb Mughal, SSP Srinagar, stated that “on our part, we know target houses were harbouring the terrorist, rest is collateral damage, for which compensation will be paid”.
Another resident, Mukhtar, said that he and his nephew were held back, while the forces allowed the rest of his family to move away from the encounter site. After the police isolated the area, they were asked to film the insides of their houses, with their phone camera, where the militants were suspected to be hiding. “We were used as human shields”, claimed Mukhtar. He also added, “When we went back after making a video, and showed it to the forces, they beat us stating that we are helping the militants to escape by making them aware of the forces”. Even this act was justified by the police as an act where the residents were only asked to accompany the forces to check their own houses.
The shattered locals of the area also alleged that the police looted them as well as their houses as they carried out the operation. “I was carrying Rs.63, 000 cash in my pocket, which I had picked up from home when we were asked to evacuate it, but they took it from me,” said one of the locals. The police, however, denied to these allegations but added that they will investigate the complaints that are registered, if any, “these are baseless allegations. In a live operation, how is it possible that someone will do that? Senior officers were present at the spot when the encounter was going on. However, if anyone has specific complaints with details of what has been stolen, we can investigate it. We have videos of the operation,” said the SSP.