‘Army occupied my land; now their dogs kill my sheep’

‘Army occupied my land; now their dogs kill my sheep’
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Shepherd with livestock killed pleads before admin

BANDIPORA: Two brothers carried their dead sheep to the Deputy Commissioner’s office here in North Kashmir’s Bandipora on Tuesday, as they came crying and lamenting for justice. Shepherd Nazir Ahmad Tantray and his brother were allowed to enter the mini secretariat main gate only after sustained protest and their agreeing to leave their dead sheep behind.
The brothers, both residents of Athwatoo village, allege that the army’s 14 Rashriya Rifles has been creating a fear psychosis among the locals ever since it set up a camp there by occupying villagers’ land in 2002.
Narrating the gruesome details of the death of his livestock, Nazir shared, “Eleven of my sheep have been killed by army dogs that roam free around the village.
“Four sheep are missing from my flock of 20. After searching everywhere in the village, I found one, dead and covered with dog bites, in a pit near the 14RR camp. I don’t know where my other three sheep are.”
Already prone to conflict with wild animals due to their village’s geographical location, the locals accompanying Nazir said they have been appealing ever since the camp’s construction for some restriction over the dogs that the camp sets to roam free. This request has gone unheeded for years. “Our demand now is that the camp be removed from the village, for which we have approached the administration many times,” Nazir said.
Locals accompanying him said that 41 kanals of land belonging to locals is under camp occupation. “Four kanals of these are mine,” added Nazir.
Narrating his livestock’s ordeal, Nazir shared that, “Four months ago, an equal number of sheep went missing and were later found dead with dog bites. A Special Police Officer, namely Ghulam Mohammad Sheikh, was also bitten at that time. In 2013, three sheep died due to dog bites.”
Speaking of the fear psychosis the villagers feel the army has created, the locals said they are living in fear and don’t dare venture outside their homes.
“We lodged complaints with Pethkoot Police Station twice, but they have only been directing us to the Deputy Commissioner’s office,” Nazir said.
Talking to Kashmir Reader, Deputy Commissioner Bandipora said that he has taken up this issue with the army and an inquiry has been initiated. “I have even ordered them to take care to keep the situation from arising again. We are also looking for compensation for the victims,” he said.