Hajin: Hundreds of people protested in Hajin town, shouting anti-India and pro-freedom slogans, and demanded that the bodies of the three militants killed on Thursday should be handed over to the townspeople for burial.
The protesters made announcements from mosque loudspeakers, saying the town will remain closed till the bodies are handed to the people.
Police fired dozens of teargas canisters and empty rounds in air to disperse the protesters who threw stones in retaliation.
The local Auqaf Committee members approached the police, pleading them to return the bodies. However, they were told that the trio has been buried in Uri.
The people then offered Jinazah (last prayers) to the militants in absentia in the town after Friday prayers. After the Jinazah, the protests intensified.
Three yet-to-be-identified militants were killed in Khosa Mohalla of Hajin on Thursday. The army had blown up the house in which they were hiding with mortar shelling.
Locals say forces looted a house, damaged 2
Not only was the house where the militants had taken shelter reduced to rubble with explosives, two other houses were unnecessarily damaged and one household looted by the government forces, local residents said.
Ghulam Nabi Bhat, whose house was reduced to rubble, said his wife and two children had finished dinner and were about to go to bed when the three militants broke into the house.
“They spoke fluent Urdu. Ghulam Nabi couldn’t understand them well because he is illiterate. They asked for tea which his wife prepared. They told her that they had dinner somewhere else,” said Mohammad Afzal, a close relative of Bhat who also had a share in the destroyed house.
Bashir Ahmad, who lives a block away from Bhat’s house, said the government forces asked people to come out of their homes at about 7am on Thursday.
“My family stayed back and we watched how they shattered everything that came their way,” he said.
The police then sent a man to Bhat’s house, asking the family to vacate the house. Bhat wife came out after much persuasion. The forces asked them to reveal where the militants were hiding in the house.
“The militants fired a few shots at about 10 am after realising they have been cornered. After that the gunfire went silent,” said Bashir’s son Aadil, who witnessed it from the first floor of his house.
Mohammad Sabir, whose house was taken over by the forces to fire at the militants, said the troopers stole about Rs 30,000 and ate bakery items worth about Rs 4,000.
Sabir, whose son Mushtaq Ahmad is a baker, said, “He (Mushtaq) had saved Rs 20,000 for the renovation of his shop and another Rs 10,000 for his minor son and daughter.”
The house of Abdul Rahman, where another group of troopers had taken position, was vandalized.