SRIAGAR: A half-an-hour search in the under-construction house where the three militants were killed in Chhatabal on Friday night did not find any militant, the owner of the house, Muhammad Hanief Koul, told Kashmir Reader.
He said that at 2.45am, men in uniform knocked at his residence where he lives with his brother and five-member family. He said they told him to accompany them to the nearby under-construction house, which was also Koul’s, where militants were believed to be hiding.
“I took the torch and went with them,” he said. “The forces told me to lead them. They were fearful, but I was confident. We went to all the six rooms, three bathrooms, and the attic. I showed them all room s one by one. At that time we saw nobody there. Then I was told to go and sleep. I joined the family. However, two personnel stayed at my house.”
In the morning, after the morning prayers, Koul said he accompanied his son, who studies in Class 10, to a bus stop where the shool bus was scheduled to take him to a picnic.
“I told the forces’ personnel that I have to drop my son. They contacted somebody on phone who told them to allow us with the condition that my wife accompany us as well. But my wife did not go because she was fearful. I was told to return an hour later, not immediately. I agreed. I was told that the search operation will end in an hour,” he said.
“Immediately after I dropped the son, there came the sound of bullets, and I saw plumes of smokes in the air. It was my under-construction house bearing the brunt of the bullets,” he said.
Koul had his three daughters and wife at his home. They were sitting in a room which was at a stone’s throw from the encounter site. According to his daughter, who wished not to be named, two policemen who were stationed at another house had come in their lawn. One of them had gone to use a washroom, she said, and on his return back to the house, he went close to a tin shed, which he opened, and then closed discreetly.
“After the policeman shut the tin shed, he shouted that there is movement in a nearby house. Then there were only sound of bullets. We lay on the floor,” she said. “Then suddenly a bike caught fire and then a nearby house.”
“We could not figure out what was happening outside because we had lay down on the floor. As the firing continued, we crawled into the nearby room, jumped from a window, then over a wall, to reach a neighbour’s house. We stayed their till the forces said they had killed the militants,” she said.
Dring this time, Koul was outside the house. After the encounter ended, he went to his under-construction house on which he had spent his life’s savings. On Friday evening, he said, he was inside that house, negotiating rates with masons. He said his eldest daughter, who is a mechanical engineer and teaches at SSM College, had given him Rs 15,000 for tiles for the kitchen.
His family was planning to shift soon into the house where work on the first floor was almost complete. The kitchen had been tiled and plastered. Only its windows were not attached, Koul said.
“Now my house is perforated by bullets. There is no room which is not damaged. I wonder where from did these militants land in my house which was free of anybody the night before,” he said.