Army ‘weapons recovery’ in Kupwara rakes up controversy

Srinagar: Army on Monday landed in a controversy after it claimed some arms and ammunition were recovered in a village in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district.
But rejecting the Army claims, the village residents alleged that troops were trying to deter them from pursuing the infamous mass rape of women “by triggering explosions and making false claims of arms recoveries.”
An Army spokesman in a statement here said that a patrol party “while crossing Kamili Nala in Poshpora around 7:30 am Monday had chanced upon a cache containing pistols and grenades.
“The vigilant troops observed a suspicious looking sack. On search of the sack, troops recovered 6 pistols, 8 UBGL and one hand grenade.”
However, the locals rebuffed the Army claims and said that “desperate attempts were being made to force the closure of the Kunan-Poshpora case.”
“The arms were planted well in advance by the Army to defame us. They also triggered explosion to cause scare among the people. Army’s only aim is to make us give up the fight for justice for our daughters, sisters and mothers, who were brutally gang raped by the soldiers in 1990,” Panch of Poshpora village Ghulam Ahmad Dar told Kashmir Reader.
“From last three days, Army soldiers were making rounds of the Houtangur Nallah. Every day, we take our cattle for grazing through the Nallah, but we never came across any sack containing weapons. It’s a sheer lie,” the Panch said.
He said the “knot around the sack was fresh suggesting that the arms were planted in recent days. These pressure tactics won’t work now. Our battle for justice will continue come what may.”
Dar alleged that the Army was making desperate attempts to muzzle the voice of the victims and their families. He said that Army also failed to convince Panchayat members, who enquired about the recovery and the simultaneous diffusion.
“We went to meet an Army officer to enquire why Panchayat members were not informed if the arms were recovered. The officer said his men were in the village throughout the night and that they found the sack. But we don’t believe their version,” Dar said.
“We might have believed them had they shown us the arms. The villagers widely believe that the arms were planted by Army,” he added.
Army’s Srinagar-based spokesman, Lt Col Ankur told Kashmir Reader that an unnecessary controversy was being created over the diffusion of arms recovered by soldiers.
“The recovery of a sack was incidental. An Army patrol found the sack containing UBGL grenades and pistols. Later, police was informed and the UBGL grenades were diffused in their presence,” Ankur said.
“Diffusing old ammunition that can cause accidents is a normal procedure. What’s wrong with it,” he added.
Meanwhile, J&K Coalition of Civil Society, the Support Group for Justice for Kunan-Poshpora Survivors, in a statement said the explosion and “the threat of further searches was clearly an act of intimidation against the villagers of Kunan and Poshpora, and all those associated with the struggle against impunity of the Indian Army.”
“The Village Committee of Kunan-Poshpora, that is fighting the mass rape and torture case of February 1991, has approached the Trehgam Police Station for the filing of a FIR,” the statement said.
“On April 5, Army personnel from Hiri camp were at the same location shooting a video, which appeared like a reconnaissance. For three days, prior to April 5, there was unusual movement of the same Army personnel at this location,” it added.