Families allege soldiers set ablaze homes of 2 militant commanders

Families allege soldiers set ablaze homes of 2 militant commanders

"They took us out of our house and sprinkled some powder on the house," he said, adding the house was soon in flames.

A day after militants gunned down four policemen outside south Kashmir’s Shopian town, families of two militant commanders on Thursday alleged government forces set ablaze their homes in the area during the night.

According to residents of Amshipora village, some 5 kilometers east of Shopian, soldiers in plainclothes marched in through surrounding apple orchards after midnight and set aflame the family home of Shahjahan, Jaish-e-Mohammd district commander. 

A visibly frightened family member said he heard a continuous rat-a-tat on the front door of his house and when he opened the door he found army men– donning Pherans– standing on the porch.

"They took us out of our house and sprinkled some powder on the house," he said, adding the house was soon in flames.

The army men soon vanished from the spot, he said.

Villagers rushed to the spot and doused the flames. However, they could salvage little from the house.

 "We tried hard to save some household goods. Everything in the house went up in flames," said a neighbor pointing towards the charred windows. 

During the same night some 12 kilometers away, in Nazneenpora village the house of HizbulMujahideen commander Syed Naved also went up in flames. 

"They (army men) came in the dead of night and after searching our house thoroughly they set it on fire," said a family member.

He said they were asked to remain outside the house till the search was over.

"After they left the spot we smelt some acrid odour and soon we saw smoke coming out of the upper story of our house," said another family member, adding that they put the fire out with the help of neighbours.

Earlier, on May 31, soldiers were accused of burning down the house of a local militant Adil Ahmad Dar  inGudibagh, Kakapora area of district Pulwama.

Villagers in the area said government forces were exacting revenge for the four policemen killed on Wedensday outside Shopian town.

“It is a war between forces and militants. The families should not be dragged into it," a resident of Nazneenpora village said.

Defence spokesperson Colonel Rajesh  Kalia did not respond to repeated phone calls from this reporter.