Handwara gunfight: Destruction of 8 houses leaves families devastated

Farooq along with his family members was trapped in his house when the exchange of fire between militants and government forces broke out in the area midnight on Thursday.
Handwara gunfight: Destruction of 8 houses leaves families devastated

As the three-day cordon of the Babagund village in Handwara ended with the killing of two militants, five security personnel and a civilian, a trail of destruction left behind by the 56-hour gunfight has come to fore.

Farooq Ahmad, a local resident whose residential housesuffered partial damage said it was a miraculous escape for them.

Farooq along with his family members was trapped in hishouse when the exchange of fire between militants and government forces brokeout in the area midnight on Thursday.

"During all three days we were inside the house. We used acopper ware to urinate and didn't get to eat anything," said Farooq Ahmad.

Eight residential houses and three cowsheds have beendamaged in the encounter.

Zahida, whose house was completely damaged, said that herhusband, Imtiyaz Ahmad Bhat, is missing since the encounter broke out. She saidthough she was told by locals that her husband has been picked up by thegovernment forces and is in police custody, she has not been able to see him.

While narrating the events, Zahida said, "As governmentforces launched CASO in the area, my husband was called by the forces at around8 p.m on Thursday to a local chowk. We called him repeatedly on phone and ataround 11 p.m he was allowed by the forces to come back to home. When myhusband reached he shifted us to nearby relative's house and said governmentforces have directed him to return to Babagund Chowk. Since then we haven'tseen him."

Jabeena, a woman in her 40s, whose house was also razed toground during the encounter said when government forces started searching herhouse, she offered them help. "However, when nothing was found in the house, Ialong with my mother-in-law were asked to leave the house immediately."

"When the siege was lifted, we were shocked to see our newlyconstructed home razed to ground," Jabeena said.

Munaza, a young girl, whose house suffered partial damage inthe encounter, said they were confined to a single room during these threedays. Munaza said she was getting married after a few months and the family hadkept jewellery and cash in the house, "which is now missing."

The police officials have described the Babagund operation as complex as the area is congested. The gunbattle which lasted for three days left two cops, three CRPF personnel including an inspector, besides two militants and a civilian dead besides damage to eight residential houses and three cowsheds.

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