Kulgam: Poplar trees are falling to the axe in Kulgam villages, not because of the high court’s orders to remove them for the allergic pollen they sprout in spring, but because the trunks of the poplars are the favourite tools of villagers to block roads with.
While many have used logs that had been kept for timber, at many places roadside trees have been brought down to hinder movement of troops and vehicles.
The locals say that poplar trees are found in abundance in the area and given that they achieve great heights, a single one is capable of blocking the widest of roads.
On the Qoimoh-Shopian road that has many villages alongside it, travel has almost become impossible as trees lie across the roads like slumbering giants.
Many poplar trees that were ready to be dispatched to veneer and ply factories, now serve the use of blocking roads. Muhammad Shafi, a resident of Yaripora, said that poplar trunks are easy to place and a set of them can be arranged close to each other like a rumble strip, an impassable one.
“Stones leave gap for bikers, but trees leave no passage,” he said.
At Reban, people could be seen sitting upon the trunks. They were allowing only sick persons to pass.
Feroze Ahmad, a local, said that the spots where the trees are placed usually denote the boundaries of villages. Additional trees are placed on roads near the village markets.
“Conducting rallies during evenings is common in our villages,” he said.
Posters attributed to militant groups have already appeared in Qoimoh, Redwani and other adjoining areas. They have asked people to carry out trade activity for two hours in the evenings.
Along Balso, Kader, Wonpoh villages, many trees have been cut by chainsaws or axes along chest height. Many saws and axes can be seen attached to the trunks.
The twigs and branches have also been put to use: at many blockade points they have been burned to create a further deterrent.