Beerwah Residents Clash With Army

9 December 2009
Rising Kashmir
Wasim Khalid

Srinagar: The residents of Beerwah in central Kashmir district of Budgam Wednesday accused troopers of committing burglaries in the villages after they caught an ‘army captain’ stealing belongings from a house last night. The villagers alleged that troopers of 34 RR unit stationed in the area let loose a reign of terror on some villages including – Kangripora, Peth Zaingam, Pakherpora- to intimidate people not to highlight the issue of troopers committing burglaries. “The armymen ransacked our houses, broke doors and window panes and beat people including women and children ruthlessly,” they alleged. More than 40 people were injured in the army action. The villagers of Kangripora said their village witnessed robbery incidents on daily basis from last 12 days. “We thought some civilians were involved in the theft cases. Someday back, the robbers looted gold from one of the house,” a villager of Kangripora said. The villagers alleged that RR personnel posing as thieves stole gold worth Rs 75000 from a house at Zadipora. The villagers said all the robberies were carried out in the night. “As the robberies became a daily affair, we decided that whenever the robbers raid any house, the family members would raise an alert so that villagers can pounce on the burglars. Last night at Kangripora, the robbers appeared and barged into the house of one Ghulam Nabi Sheikh. While they were entering the house, the family members raised an alarm. Hearing the cries, the villagers came out and chased the thieves and were able to catch hold one of them,” they said. The residents said the thief turned out to be an army captain. “He was wearing black jacket. During the night, the contingents of RR personnel were making rounds of the village. At 2 am, an army major along with some troopers appeared on the scene. He took the army captain under his custody and said they would punish him,” they said, adding, “While the captain was boarding the vehicle, army men ransacked a shop”. The villagers said in the wee hours, an army official of 34 RR came to the village and asked them not to highlight the incident. “He promised of constructing the wretched roads and installation of power transformer provided people did not reveal the incident to anybody. We refused the offer,” the villagers said. Later, all the villagers gathered and blocked the Zanigan road, connecting Beerwah with Arizal to protest against the army’s involvement in robbery. Raising anti-army slogans, the protestors were demanding action against the army personnel involved in the robbery. While the demonstration was going on, 34 RR troopers appeared on the scene and opened fire in air to disperse the agitating villagers. “They barged into the houses and ransacked the household goods. They also broke the windows and doors and pelted stones on the people. They beat women and children also,” the villagers said. They alleged that berserk army men destroyed properties worth lakhs of rupees. Three people identified as Shagufta Akther daughter of Ghulam Rasool, Ghulam Nabi Wani son of Ali Mohammad and Ali Mohammad Wani suffered critical injuries during the army action and were hospitalized. SSP Badgam, Aftab Kakroo said police would register case against the army. “We are waiting for the villagers to file complaint against the troopers. We would investigate the matter. Anybody found guilty would not be spared,” he said. “I have visited three villages and saw armymen having ransacked villages and beaten people to pulp,” Kakroo told Rising Kashmir. Army spokesman, Lt Col J S Brar declined to comment on the issue. DC Budgam Mohammad Rafi and MLA Khan Sahib Hakeem Mohammad Yaseen visited the villages to take stock of the situation. “The troopers are harassing the local population at Kangripora. On Tuesday the troops entered nearly 100 houses and damaged the household items besides broking the window panes,” Hakeen Yasin told Rising Kashmir. He said if the government claims that peace has prevailed in the state then why innocent civilians are being targeted by the troopers. “Police could not control the troopers, who are taking the law into their own hands. Police is not in a position to act against them, he alleged. Demanding an inquiry into the incident, Yaseen said the culprits should be brought to book.