SRINAGAR: It has been several months now that a family of 12 is living under a tin shed, their large house blasted to rubble by government forces during an encounter with militant commander Bashir Lashkari, who was killed along with two associates while fighting from within the house. The family had told Kashmir Reader that army and police were not letting them reconstruct the destroyed house. Several weeks later, they are still saying the same.
Bashir Ahmad, owner of the destroyed house in Brinti village of Anantnag, told Kashmir Reader over phone that he started work on rebuilding the house this week to create some protection against the coming winter, but no sooner than the work began that policemen arrived and had it stopped.
“On Tuesday the work was going on and everything was going fine. Suddenly a few men in civvies came in a car. They claimed to be policemen and said that the work has to be stopped,” Bashir said.
The policemen snatched the instruments of the labourers and asked them to leave the work site, Bashir said.
Ulfat Jan, daughter of Bashir, told Reader, “The next day, on Wednesday, we again started the work. At 11am, when it was time for tea, three policemen clad in pherans came and told us to stop the work. We asked them the reason, to which a policeman said that “sahab” has told them to have the work stopped.”
Ulfat added that the policemen took her and two relatives to the police post at Damhal. “We were kept at the police post for two hours. At 1pm we were released, after some elders visited the police station,” she said.
“They were asking us to either hand over our lone brother Khursheed Ahmad to them or else be detained at the police station,” Ulfat said.
Villagers in Brenti and the local Auqaf committee had collected Rs 4 lakh to help the family rebuild their house, but the army and police allegedly did not allow the reconstruction work to take place. “We are being forced to accommodate our big family in a makeshift tin shed even in these chilling winter days,” Bashir Ahmad said.
“We are facing a lot of hardship here. We do not even have space to sleep. Our children and daughters are not able to sleep in the chilling cold,” Bashir said.
“I have a big family, with at least 12 family members. Among them are seven daughters and granddaughters, two sons, and my wife. All the domestic activities have to be done within the tin shed. From kitchen to bedroom, we have only this space,” Bashir rued.
“We are crunched in a small space like a flock of sheep. We are completely fed up of living like this,” he said.
Duty officer at Damhal police post, Mushtaq Ahmad said, “Their (the family’s) son Khursheed Ahmad is involved in a militancy-related case and that is why police wants him.”
Station house officer of police station Achabal, Javid Ahmad, said that Bashir Ahmad and his family were making a baseless allegation.
“They have constructed the house partially and no one is creating hurdle in construction work,” he said.
Senior Superintendent of Police Anantnag, Mohammad Altaf Khan, told Kashmir Reader that the allegations are baseless. “Police has never interfered in the construction work,” he said.