Anantnag: Unrelenting nocturnal raids, arrests of youth, summons to the police stations and vandalism of property by government forces has left the people in most of south Kashmir parts in fear and uncertainty, even as the government’s Non Initiation of Combat Operations (NICO) is being termed as a success.
“The way an atmosphere of peace and calm is here right now, in my opinion, the people here are very happy with that,” army chief Bipin Rawat said about the NICO during a recent visit to the valley.
Far from being happy, people in most parts of south Kashmir are living in perpetual fear, as government forces have intensified their night raids in many areas. Dozens of youths have been arrested during these nocturnal raids.
In Vessu area of Kulgam district, government forces have been carrying out regular night raids and arresting people, the locals allege.
“Some have been released after being badly tortured and others are still languishing in detention,” locals alleged. “Some are being summoned to the police stations and, if they fail to turn up, their families are being harassed.”
Similar raids have taken place in the last week or so in Khodweni area of Kulgam, where more than five youths have been arrested. “In the last week or so, four to five raids have been conducted in our area and youths have been arrested,” locals alleged.
Raids have also been carried out in Bijbehara and Arwini areas of Anantnag district, one of them triggering violent clashes in Arwini area on May 25.
“The clashes have only invited the wrath of the forces as more youth have been arrested,” the locals said.
In Sugan area of Shopian and parts of Pulwama district, such raids have been carried out recently and arrests have been made. In Sugan, militant commander Zeenat-ul-Islam’s house was ransacked by the government forces.
Apart from these raids, what is creating fear among the people are some strange incidents – like the tombstone of a militant’s grave going missing and an attempt to set a militant’s house ablaze.
Locals are accusing the government forces to be behind these incidents but their officials have categorically refuted the allegations.
Kashmir Inspector General of Police (IGP) SP Pani told Kashmir Reader that the arrests were being made to mitigate some “threats”.
“Yes, the NICO is working well but then there have been multiple grenade attacks, which is a threat. The threats need to be identified and mitigated,” Pani said.