Army establishes another garrison in Shopian, locals allege harassment
Raashid Hassan/Owais Farooqi
SHOPIAN/ BANDIPORA: Two militants escaped after clashes broke out at Vijpara village, near Hajin town in Bandipora district, on Monday, local sources told Kashmir Reader. In Shopian, a cordon and search operation yielded nothing in Ronipora, Mantribug, Zainpora, Dangam, Wangam and adjacent villages. Government forces launched the operation in the wee hours of morning, but instead of finding militants they had to fight off stone-pelting from locals, who alleged that the soldiers beat up two women and four youths and arrested two teenagers.
According to sources, the army’s 13 RR and the police special operations group (SOG) launched a cordon and search operation (CASO) in Parray Mohalla near Hajin town, acting on information of militants present in a house there.
As soon as the news of the CASO reached the people, locals from Astaan Mohalla, Parray Mohalla, Shahgun, Gondiboon and Shahgud rushed towards the site, using loudspeakers to assemble. “They clashed with government forces there,” witnesses said.
As the clashes escalated, local sources said, at least two militants managed to give the slip to the forces by disappearing into the nearby fields. Local sources said that the clashes continued till late in the evening, “with forces firing numerous tear smoke shells.”
Later in the evening, government forces launched a CASO in Lawdara area of Bandipora. The CASO was still on when this story was filed.
In Shopian’s Ronipora village, locals said that the army soldiers beat up four youths. “They beat four boys and smashed their mobile phones without any provocation or reason,” a resident of the village said.
The villagers added that the forces conducted door-to-door searches in at least 50 houses in the village.
In the evening, locals hurled stones on the army soldiers after reports that they had beaten up two ladies in Chakoora village and arrested two teenagers there.
Earlier, a new army garrison was established between
Chakoora and Mantribug villages, about one kilometer from Ronipora village, where the pre-dawn CASO was launched. This new garrison is two kilometres from the Nagisharan army garrison. It is the fifth newly-established army garrison in Shopian district, the sixth since the 2016 summer uprising.
Residents of Nagisharan, Kundalan, Hajipora, Harmain and adjacent villages told Kashmir Reader that army soldiers randomly conduct frisking of travellers, demanding identity proofs and often forcing the passengers to disembark from vehicles and walk to the army camps.
“As soon as this new garrison at Nagisharan was established, some two months ago, harassing and frisking of people has become a daily routine. It not only consumes the people’s time but also creates a fear psychosis in them,” a villager from Harmain said. Moreover forces also pasted posters of active militants in the area during CASO.
Senior Superintendent of Police Shopian, SA Dinkar, was not available to comment despite several phone calls from this reporter.
Srinagar-based army spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia was also not available to comment on the newly-established garrison between Mantribug and Chakoora villages.