Counter-insurgency centre turns into militant hotbed

The area in North Kashmir had witnessed counter-insurgency operations against militants who were driven out of the region. But the same area has now emerged as a hotbed of militancy

Photo by Gulzar Bhat
Photo by Gulzar Bhat

Gulzar Bhat

Residents of Hajan on the banks of the Jhelum ( Bandipora), 30 Kilometres from Srinagar, were on Friday still in a state of shock 48 hours after the rampage by security personnel.

It was around 6 am in the morning on Wednesday and a few shops in the village had just opened, recall eyewitness accounts. Very few people were out at that hour on the chilly morning. But soon the morning stillness was broken as some soldiers from a nearby camp descended on the village with crowbars and hammers and set about vandalizing houses. Before people could recover from their shock and realise what was happening, villagers allege, the soldiers had set scores of haystacks on fire.

Haleema (45) with her four children was in her mud house while her husband, a daily wage labourer, had gone out. She heard a commotion and saw from the window a few soldiers approaching the house. She rushed to the front door to bolt it from inside but two soldiers, she recalls, proved faster than her and forced their way inside. They began to break household goods, she alleged.

“When I tried to restrain them, one of them kicked me and held me back while the other went on breaking everything he could see,” recalled Haleema while her children cowered in a corner and howled in fear.

Jalal-u- Din Wani (40), a shopkeeper, alleged that the soldiers assaulted him and ransacked his shop. “The vandals (army men) beat me severely and wrecked my grocery shop, paying no heed to my pleas,” he said.

Villagers alleged that soldiers after vandalising their residential houses, set hundreds of haystacks on fire. “They were in a frenzy. They wrecked everything that came in their way. They also ransacked my house” said Mohmmad Yousuf, Chowkidar of village Hajin.

A senior police officer wishing not be quoted claimed that the soldiers were outraged at being pelted with stones. But he was not clear when and where the incident had occurred. He also claimed that only a few houses faced the wrath of the soldiers and said that allegations of vandalism were grossly exaggerated.

Hajan once a village of counter insurgents is a new hot bed of militancy

Counter-insurgency centre turns into militant hotbed

In mid-nineties the village was the abode of counter insurgents from where the largest counter insurgent group, Ikhwan-ul-Muslimin headed by the folk singer turned counter insurgent Mohd Yousuf Parray aka Kuka parray operated. Although the group had wiped out militancy from the Valley, it earned the notoriety of killings innocent civilians. In recent times the area has turned into a new hot bed of militancy in North Kashmir.

In January 2017, Abu Musaib, a Lashkar-e- Taiba commander and nephew of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhwi was neutralised in an encounter with security forces. On April 2017, militants killed Abdul Rashid Billa, former commander of Ikhwan-ul- Muslimin in the village. The killing was followed by a string of encounters with security forces. On October 12, two Indian Air force Commandos and two LET militants were killed during an encounter with security forces in the village. In 2017, the village has witnessed some 50 odd Cordon and Search Operations (CASO).

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Published: 08 Dec 2017, 7:01 PM