Army beats up villagers, militant’s family in Heff Shopian
SHOPIAN: At least 20 persons sustained pallet injuries while several others, including women and children, were beaten up by government forces on Wednesday during an intense cordon and search operation at Heff Shirmal village in southern Shopian district.
Residents of Heff Shirmal said told Kashmir Reader that civilians injured by pellets were taken to hospitals in Zainapora, Pulwama and Anantnag. “Hundreds of armed men laid siege to our village in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. We heard local youth shouting on loud speakers that government forces had cordoned the village and had beaten up a family. Local youths came out of their houses and threw stones at the government troops, who retaliated with pellets, tear smoke and sonic bombs,” a villager, requesting anonymity, said.
A boy, requesting that his name be withheld, said that army soldiers were carrying him away in their vehicle when girls of the village blocked the vehicle and rescued him. “I am thankful to my sisters who rescued me from the army, else they would have killed me. They beat me, dragged me to the vehicle, but the angel of mercy came to me in the shape of the village girls,” the boy said.
Soon after the cordon ended, villagers told media persons that the troops beat at least 60 civilians during house-to-house searches.
“They entered our house and beat us up ruthlessly. When my wife and daughter came to rescue me, they beat them, too, and snatched my daughter’s earrings,” said Muhammad Ashraf, a resident of the village.
The family of a local militant, Saddam Padder, said that the troops beat Saddam’s mother, two sisters, his brother, father, uncle, and took away their mobile phones. “They abused us, beat us, smashed the lights in our house. They also took away our mobile phones and chargers,” Firdousa, Saddam’s mother, said.
A woman said that about dozens of troopers entered her house and beat her family members. “They were about 50 in number. They entered our house and beat my daughters, husband and me for an hour. We cried but they continued beating us. People from the nearby villages tried to rescue us but the troops fired pellets and shells at them,” she said.
Villagers said that army soldiers ransacked dozens of residential houses and damaged personal property. They also said that two youth, Mairaj Ahmad Ganai and Khushal Hamid, were arrested by the troops. Mairaj’s family said that Mairaj is deaf and a mentally disabled person.
On May 4, government forces had conducted a massive search and cordon operation in 17 villages in Shopian. Heff village is considered as the center of resistance in the area. There are five active Hizb militants from the village. Locals said that raids on homes and ransacking of property by government troops is a common event in the village.