A box has been placed in village Batmadan Shopian by locals in which visitors donate money to help the owners of five houses completely damaged during a fierce gunfight between militants and government forces on December 18.
The whole village is in mourning due to the killings and destruction and there is a rush of people who come to offer their sympathies to the families.
Two militants were killed in the encounter while a woman was shot dead in clashes with government forces. Several families were rendered homeless in the encounter as five residential houses and three cowsheds were completely razed to ground in shelling by government forces while a car, a motorcycle and two cows also were burnt.
The houses belonged to Muhammad Yaqoob Bhat, Abdul Ahad Bhat, Ghulam Muhammad Sheikh, Abdul Ahad Sheikh and Ali Sheikh.
Abdul Ahad Sheikh and Ali Sheikh were the poorest families in the village and the encounter snatched everything they had.
All of these families are putting up in the houses of some local residents.
“When I left my home, everything was intact but when I returned there were only flames and destruction. I had recently constructed a new two storey house but it was razed to ground during the night. A cowshed was also completely damaged by fire and my two cows also were burnt alive,” Muhammad Yaqoob said.
“I lost everything in the house. I had gold jewellery of my daughter worth 10 lakh rupees in the house and I could not save that.”
Yaqoob is working in State Information department.
He is now residing in her daughter’s house in the village.
Abdul Ahad Bhat lost his one-storey house and cowshed in the encounter.
“I had saved money for many years to build house and built it with the help of my relatives but I did not know that I will lose it within a blink of eye. I could not save anything except the clothes we had worn at that time,” Abdul Ahad said.
“My family members are now completely dependent on the help of others”.
Ghulam Muhammad Sheikh and Ali Muhammad who are regarded as the poorest families in the village, are also putting up in the house of a neighbour.
“The scene was very threatening. With every blast and firing, I felt that my house is gone. For the whole night we could not even blink our eyes and everyone was in a shock. But the whole world was destroyed after I saw flames and debris in the place of my house,” Ali Muhammad said.
“I don’t expect that I can now build a new house ever,” he said while tears rolling down his cheeks.
“These are the worst days of my life as I cannot even give a hundred rupee note to my family.”
“We have no hope from government now because they did not even provide us shelter or tents. We cannot forget the help and love of locals who offered all possible help to us in this time.”
The victims complained that the administration except a Naib Tehsildar did not even visit the village to see their condition and they were now forced to visit the DC office.
“We now today went to DC office Shopian and met the DC. He assured that they have started the process and the families will be helped,” one of the victims said.
According to locals they are offering all possible help to the families.
“We are collecting money for these families and the villagers are ready for any kind of help to them but we request people to come forward to help these families,” some locals said.