Police, army have stopped reconstruction work, says owner; family of 12 now living in tin-shed
BRENTHI (ANANTNAG): The foundations are newly built but the image is of a ruin. Stones lie littered and piles of red bricks are scattered at the site of a house that was being rebuilt after it was blasted to rubble by government forces in Brenthi, Kokernag. The owner of that house told Kashmir Reader that police and army stopped the reconstruction work, forcing his family of 12 to stay in a tin-shed.
Government forces blew up Bashir Ahmad Ganaie’s house during an encounter in which Lashkar commander Bashir Lashkari and his associate were killed on July 1, 2017. Villagers and the local Auqaf committee gathered money to rebuild the house, but the Ganie family’s troubles had only just begun.
“The work was stopped after the plinth was laid, by the police and army who did not let us proceed with the reconstruction. We were forced to accommodate our big family in a makeshift tin-shed,” Bashir Ahmad said.
He said that the locals had collected money to the amount of 4 lakh rupees for the rebuilding of the house.
“It was our religious obligation to raise the funds to help them rebuild their house,” a resident of Brenthi village said. “We don’t need the government’s help at all. We want to rebuild the house on our own. But the army and police are not happy with the reconstruction. They are creating hurdles in the work.”
The local Auqaf committee president Ghulam Nabi Magloo made the same allegation. He said that on the very night that the reconstruction of the house began, on August 18, army soldiers and policemen raided the home of one of the committee members, Ajaz Ahmad Shah, to arrest him. “Fortunately, he was not at home,” Magloo said.
“The next day, when he came to know that police had raided his home to arrest him, he visited the police station at Achabal on his own. Police asked him several questions and he claimed to have been mentally tortured by them,” Magloo said.
“The police asked him, why are you collecting money for the family if it (providing shelter to militants) is an anti-national and anti-government act? You are violating the law,” Magloo narrated.
Another local resident, Asif, added that the army has been continuously patrolling the area to keep an eye on the construction work. “People are now frightened to start the work again. They have abandoned the work. The army visits the village on daily basis and has created an atmosphere of terror among the villagers,” he said.
The Ganie family is currently residing in a tin-shed, erected in the lawn of one of their relatives. “We are facing a lot of hardship here. We not even have any space to sleep,” Bashir said.
“I have a big family, with at least 12 family members. Among them are seven daughters and granddaughters, two sons and my wife. All the domestic activities have to be done within the tin-shed. From kitchen to bedroom, we have only this space,” Bashir rued.
“We are crunched in a small space like a flock of sheep. We are completely fed up of living like this,” he said.
Senior Superintendent of Police Anantnag, Mohammad Altaf Khan, told Reader that the allegations are baseless. The police never stopped any work, he said.
“Police has never interfered in the construction work and neither has any intention to interfere,” he said.
Army PRO Rajesh Kalia said the same thing. “It is a baseless allegation,” he said.