Collateral damage: Left homeless in gunfights, families lost in long struggle for compensation

Collateral damage: Left homeless in gunfights, families lost in long struggle for compensation
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SHOPIAN: Gunfights between militants and government forces in Kashmir are leaving many families homeless as government forces show mercy on houses sheltering the militants, or even others that stand nearby.
Many families in south Kashmir have lost the labour of their lives in the form of houses and household goods.
While government does not compensate the homeowners reported to have been sheltering militants, many, who have lost homes despite not housing militants have to undergo a long process before their claims for compensation are entertained.
Gowhar Ahmad Hurra, a resident of Hajin village of Pulwama district told Kashmir Reader that his house was destroyed by government forces during a gunfight on Dec 29, 2018 which killed three Jaish militants.
Hurra said that his under-construction house was razed down by forces “without any reason” as his house was located more than hundred meters away from the encounter site.
“We had not moved there as the house was under construction, without doors, windows and other household material,” he said, adding that government forces razed down the house despite the fact that militants were hiding at another place.
“Our under-construction house is situated in an orchard and isolated place, they razed it down and the house in which militants were hiding has minor damages,” one of the family members said.
Hurra said that they had spent Rs 25 lac on the construction of two-storey house and were eager to move in because of space constraints in their existing house.
“My mother sold her gold ornaments, we also sold two dozen sheep and took loans from friends to build the house that government forces razed in minutes,” Hurra said.
Their old house has three rooms which were not sufficient for the six-member family. The house destroyed in the recent encounter, according to the family, had eight rooms, two washrooms and a lobby.
Hurra wants the state governor to look into their problem and approve compensation for them.
Deputy Commissioner Pulwama, Ghulam Muhammad Dar told Kashmir Reader that the family should write an application to his office after which a team would be sent to verify the details.
“We will compensate them after the completion of legal procedures,” he said adding that the family should visit his office along with the application.
While Hurra is presently living in their old house, the family of Ishaq Ahmad at Batgund village of Shopian, lost both the old house and a new one in a gunfight in which six militants were killed on Nov 25, 2018.
The 12-member family is now putting up at a relative’s house.
The family said, both their houses, which stood close by, were razed down in the encounter.
“One of our relatives has given us shelter and everyone knows that both houses were destroyed including the household goods and we were left with empty hands in this bone chilling winter,” the family said.
Ishaq said that a team of patwaries visited their house but no compensation was given to them so far for the property worth lacs lost in the encounter.
The family said they were facing immense problems, and pleaded for speedy sanction of compensation.
Another family from Nadigam village lost their two-storey house, comprising of ten rooms, in an encounter on November 20.
Relatives of the family told Kashmir Reader that the family comprised of father and son, and both were arrested after the encounter. While the father, Bashir Ahmad Ganie, was recently released after repeated demonstrations by locals, the son is still languishing behind bars.
Bashir is now living at a relative’s house, they said.
Deputy Commissioner Shopian, Owais Ahmad told Kashmir Reader that they were working on the compensation cases.
“There are several aspects to check, like involvement/non-involvement report, police report, magisterial report and report from army. After completing all these procedures the families are being compensated,” he said, adding that his office will clear the compensation soon after the completion of legal processes.