ON THE SPOT: 'With every blast, we lost hope of our survival'

The three-day-long gun-battle between forces and militants in this small hamlet in northern Handwara area has left behind a trail of destruction.

Local residents told Greater Kashmir Sunday that they would never forget these three days as “every day was no less than a doomsday for us”.

“We have never witnessed such a fierce gun-battle, where the entire area shook with countless blasts and brought pain and agony to many families,” they said, recollecting what they called “the horrific time” since Thursday midnight when forces cordoned off the area following “specific information” about presence of militants.

“We haven’t slept since Thursday night when forces sealed all entry and exit points to the area,” said Muhammad Asif, a local resident.

“With every blast, we lost hope of our survival,” he said.

As the gun-battle was over on Sunday afternoon, thousands of people—apart from affected families whose shelters were razed to the ground with explosives—rushed to the area.

Seeing their homes flattened, the families started wailing to see their destroyed dwellings.

Several families, according to the police, had been evacuated from the area.  “I rushed to see if my house is intact, but I was shell-shocked when I saw it razed to the ground,” said Raja Begum.

The families rummaged through the mounds of debris to see if they can retrieve anything in order.

There were only scattered bricks, broken window panes and some kitchen items that most of the affected families could lay their hands on. A relative of Fayaz Ahmad Shah, whose house was completely damaged in the encounter, said: “They have lost everything. We don’t know where they will go in this harsh winter. How will they survive?” Amid chaos and confusion at the encounter site, people were seen consoling the affected families.

As the dusk approached, locals started to prepare food for the affected families.