Pulwama village protests army ‘highhandedness’

Pulwama village protests army ‘highhandedness’
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Demand removal of army camp

Suhail A Shah

Anantnag: The residents of Arbal Nikas, here in Pulwama district, held protest demonstrations on Thursday against alleged highhandedness by army personnel posted at nearby 44 RR camp in Hawl, Pulwama.
As per reports, hundreds of locals, including women of the area, hit the streets, demanding removal of the particular camp.
The residents alleged that the army personnel have been routinely harassing the locals, the youth in particular, ever since a local engineer-turned-militant was killed recently.
The militant, Khursheed Ahmad Malik, was killed on August 3 in Sopore area of North Kashmir’s Baramulla district in a gunfight with government forces. Intense protests had erupted in Arbal Nikas following his killing.
Ever since, the locals alleged, the army has been regularly harassing them by carrying out frequent raids and checks in the area.
“The army men regularly confiscate the identity cards of the local youth. They are then asked to drop by to the camp where they are beaten and are asked to become army informers,” a protesting woman told media men in the village.
The women alleged that the youth are finding it increasingly difficult to venture out in their own village. “Our children are no longer safe, even in their own village,” the locals alleged.
They also alleged that a woman in the locality had gone into coma after suffering a stroke during a raid on her home by the army men.
“The army men entered her house by scaling the boundary walls. There was no male family member present in the house and by the utter shock of the army presence, she suffered a stroke. She is in a coma since,” the protesting women alleged.
The protesting people raised anti-army, pro-freedom and anti-India slogans.
Kashmir Reader talked to defence spokesperson Rajesh Kalia regarding the issue. He denied the allegations levelled by the locals. “No one in the area is being harassed and no one beaten. Also, no youth are being summoned to the camp. These are baseless allegations,” Kalia said.
He said routine checks are conducted in the area though.
Meanwhile, two Cordon and Search Operations (CASOs), one in Pulwama and another in Kulgam district, were concluded on Thursday without any contact being established with militants.
CASOs were launched in Khodweni area of Kulgam district and Drubgam Payeen area of Pulwama district, following inputs regarding the presence of militants. Soon after the CASOs were launched, youth in the areas came out in good numbers and clashed with the government forces. Forces fired tear smoke shells and pellets (in Khodweni); however, no one was injured.
The operations were concluded without any contact being established with the militants.