Srinagar: Reminiscent of the early 1990s, the Indian Army in a slew of bizarre directives has asked villagers in Sopore area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district to get themselves new identity cards “duly attested” by village heads and panchayat members besides displaying the details of family members on plaques around their houses.
A party of army’s 32 RR led by Major Sumit around 10:30 am Friday visited Balhama village of Shalkoot area of Rafiabad, Sopore, and asked the people to assemble at the Eidgah ground, reports and eyewitnesses said. The army officer told the villagers to make fresh identity cards attested by village numberdar and Panchayat members. During the 90-minute meeting, the officer also asked the villagers to share their personal details with him.
“The Army officer told the residents to make fresh identity cards duly attested by numberdar and Panchayat members,” Ghulam Hassan, Panch, Balhama, told Kashmir Reader.
Besides, Hassan said, that the officer also asked the villagers to submit personal details like the number of family members, gender, age and profession at their Shalkoot camp, located at a distance of one kilometre.
“The officer told us that he has to submit our personal details at the camp, and asked us to report any suspicious movement in the village. This is sheer high- handedness. The officer is spreading terror among the 250 households of the village,” he said, adding “To add to our worries, the officer asked us to give serial numbers to each house in the village and display the names of family members in white on black plaques on all four sides of our houses,” he said.
“He even refused to entertain election cards issued by the government of India. He said identification cards other than attested by village head and Panchayat members will not be entertained,” said Mohammad Anwar Mir, Panch, Ward No 3, Balhama
The Major, he said, also warned the locals about sheltering militants.
Commander Officer, 7 Sector, Rashtriya Rifles, Brigadier Shekhawat refuted the allegations and said that army had not issued any directives.
“Our platoon commander visited the village and asked the people to make identity cards. The officer said that there must be some sort of identity proof. However, he didn’t pressurize them to do so. This is exaggeration. There are no heart burns,” he said.
He said that the issue has been sorted out by the platoon commander with the Superintendent of Police (SP), Sopore Abdul Qayoom.
However, Deputy Commissioner (DC) Baramulla, Ghulam Ahmad Khwaja said that the Panchayat members should visit his office to apprise him about the incident.
“Who’re they (army) to ask people to make identity cards. It’s the job of district administration and the police. There is no marshal law. I’ll look into the matter,” Khwaja told Kashmir Reader.