PULWAMA: Villagers in Drabgam Pulwama observed a shutdown on Wednesday alleging that army soldiers vandalised the grave of slain militant commander Sameer Ahmad Bhat aka Sameer Tiger in the night.
Villages adjoining Drabgam also observed a shutdown and scores of youth took to streets to protest against the alleged desecration of the grave.
Resident of Drabgam said that on Tuesday night, army soldiers came to the village at about 11pm and desecrated the headstone on the grave of Sameer Tiger.
“I noticed the movement of two armoured vehicle in the village during the evening,” Shabir Ahmad, a resident of Drabgam, said, adding that the army vehicles remained in the village for some time.
The protesting villagers said that on Wednesday morning they found missing the headstone bearing the epithet for slain Sameer Tiger. Announcements were then made from mosque loudspeakers asking people to come out and protest against the desecration. Within no time, locals said, scores of youth had assembled at the chowk adjacent to the graveyard.
Villagers from Drabgam and adjoining villages later travelled to the district headquarters and held a sit-in protest before the office of Deputy Commissioner Pulwama on the Pulwama-Shopian highway.
The sit-in protest continued for some time due to which movement of traffic was affected on the highway.
A protesting youth said that the government should be asked if ever a grave of a soldier or policeman has been desecrated by militants or locals anywhere.
The protesting villagers demanded an assurance from authorities for preventing such incidents in future, and were adamant on seeing the Deputy Commissioner. The Deputy Commissioner, Ghulam Muhammad Dar, was not present in his office at the time. His staff assured the protesters that they could see him tomorrow in the afternoon.
After this assurance, the sit-in protest was called off.
Sameer Tiger was killed in an encounter with government forces on April 29 this year, along with his aide Aqib Ahmad of Rajpora. A civilian was also killed during that encounter.
Locals told Kashmir Reader that this was not the first time the government forces had damaged the martyrs’ graveyard.
“Two days after the killing of Sameer, army came to the village and vandalised graves of militants,” said a resident of Drabgam who was part of the group of protesters who had come to the Pulwama DC’s office.
Deputy commissioner Pulwama, Ghulam Muhammad Dar told Kashmir Reader that he was in Srinagar and has told the villagers of Drabgam to come to his office by 10:30am on Thursday.
“We will listen to their complaints and if found genuine a proper investigation in this matter will be done,” he said.
Defence spokesperson Col Rajesh Kalia termed the allegations baseless saying, “no army soldier is involved” in the incident.