Shopian gun battle leaves behind a trail of devastation

Shopian gun battle leaves behind a trail of devastation
GK Photo

Soon after entering the Gadapora village in Shopian district, one could see billows of grey smoke rising from a devastated house.

A group of young men, faces covered with cloth, werethrowing water on the burning house. Many others were engaged in clearing thedetritus of the other nearby destroyed structures.

Men and women from the adjoining village were trickling intothe village since morning to see the devastation the Friday's counter-militantoperation had left behind.

At least nine structures, including five residential housesbelonging to four families, were destroyed during the 12-hour-long fire fightin which two local militants were killed.

Mohammad Abbas sits cross-legged in one of the unclutteredrooms of his neighbour's house that is packed with his friends and relatives.Abbas, who lost his dwelling to the gunfight, recounts the hardships his familywent through during the construction of the house.

"The construction has put us through the mill. It was allthat my father was able to do throughout his life. His lifelong savings hadgone into the construction," said Abbas.

His father Abdul Razaq Bhat died in 2014 after battlingcancer for two years. However, before his death, he constructed the two-storeyconcrete house for his family. 

Abbas says the moment the construction work was completed,the  family was left well-nigh emptyhanded.

Abbas, who runs a small pathology lab in the neighbouringVehil village, said he was at a relative's place when he heard about theencounter.

"A friend told me over phone that our house has suffered alittle damage during the gun battle. Soon I made a dash for my village and asgot here I saw my home in flames with and its walls and roof razed to theground," said Abbas.

He said the family could not salvage anything and they piledout of the house with the clothes they were wearing on.

"I was married barely a year ago and all the jewellery mywife had went up in smoke," Abbas said, his eyes welling up with tears.

He said they lost property worth Rs 30-35 lakh.

Another victim, Nazir Ahmad Thockar, a well-heeledorchardists of the village said that everything his family possessed turned tocharcoal with the blink of an eye.

 "One of my houses wasrazed to ground while another one suffered extensive damage. I also lost acowshed and few cattle," said Thockar.

The other structures destroyed in the gunfight belonged toAbdul Rehman Bhat and Mushtaq Ahmad Sheikh.

Some local residents alleged that government forcesdeliberately blew up the houses even after the militants were killed.

A revenue official on the conditions of anonymity said that"there is a provision of providing solatium to the affected families ifthey get a clearance of police that they had not provided refuge to themilitants killed during the encounter".

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