Army occupies rabbit farm in Pattan; employees, locals aghast

Army occupies rabbit farm in Pattan; employees, locals aghast

Srinagar: Army has occupied a rabbit farm in Pattan area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district causing strong resentment among the employees and the residents of the neighbourhood villages.
A motorcade of army’s 29 RR visited the rabbit farm of Sheep and Animal Husbandry department in Wusan locality, in the neighbourhood of the restive Palhallan town on Sunday and forcibly occupied three of the buildings without presenting any order from the district administration, reports and officials Tuesday said. The army officer leading the soldiers told the sheep and husbandry department officials that his higher officials will provide them the order soon. The soldiers disembarked from the vehicles and raised bunkers much to the disappointment and resentment of the employees and the locals.
“Army came on Sunday and occupied three of the buildings. All of the occupied buildings were in use. The soldiers didn’t even have any order from the government. They came, erected bunkers and occupied our buildings,” District Sheep and Husbandry Officer, Baramulla Dr Altaf Ahmad Kakroo, told Kashmir Reader Tuesday.
He said that he has appraised higher ups of his department about the illegal occupation of the buildings by the army. Kakroo said that the army occupation was bound to create problems for the employees as well as the farmers.
“Now our employees will have to seek permission from soldiers to visit their office. Even the people, who used to purchase rabbit feed from us, will not turn up. And most importantly our female attendants will feel insecure,” he added.
Spread over 110 kanal of fertile land, the Wusan rabbit farm is the largest in north India. The farm has approximately 1300 rabbits of different breeds, including Angora, Soviet Chinchilla, Gray Giants and New Zealand white besides some bunnies of German origin.
“We have around 1300 rabbits of imported breeds. This farm is an asset for the department. Besides breeding rabbits, we also provide feed to the people. The rabbit farm is a success story. And the occupation by army will surely affect it,” he said.
Meanwhile, the locals also complained of inconvenience due to the occupation of the government building by the soldiers. The soldiers, locals said, started harassing the youth and restricting their movement in the village, shortly after raising the bunkers.
“The army has intensified patrolling in the village. They intercept youth after evening prayers and subjected them to questioning. The villagers feel scared in army presence,” Mohammad Sultan Bhat, a local said.
The Wusan village, he said, has remained relatively calm over these decades. However, if the army camp comes up at the rabbit farm, he said, things will not remain normal and peaceful.
“Army’s presence in civilian areas has always been troublesome. We want to live in peace. The government should not allow the army to create a camp in our village. The soldiers should be ousted from the farm as soon as possible,” he added.
Mohammad Irshad, a college student, told Kashmir Reader that the motive of army was to track the movement of the militants and at the same time restrict the movement of Palhallan residents, for whom Wusan serves as an alternative road link.
“The army’s intention is crystal clear. They want to curb the movement of civilians. For this purpose, they might set up more camps and pickets,” he said.
Deputy Commissioner (DC), Baramulla, Farooq Ahmad Lone, told Kashmir Reader that he has not been informed by the officials of the Sheep and Animal Husbandry department about the occupation of the government buildings.
“I’m not aware of it. No official has informed me about it,” he added.

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