OPINION: Compassion Alert! Innocent Kashmiris lose their homes in military encounters

OPINION: Compassion Alert! Innocent Kashmiris lose their homes in military encounters

“Everything is burnt down. Oh my god, what will I do now? Where would I go? My husband is unwell and my children are young. Where do I take them in this (coronavirus) pandemic?” …..weeps Shakeela, a resident of Nawa Kadal

By Yana Mir

Srinagar, 20 May 2020

A house is made of walls and beams, a home is built with love and dreams…..But regretfully this doesn’t stand true for those Innocent Kashmiris, who are first bullied by terrorists at gun point and forced to give them shelter, then watch helpessly as their homes are blown down to ashes in ensuing encounters between Army men and hiding terrorists.

First nationalist Kashmiris, not caring about consequences, inform the army about militants in hiding.

Then military arrives with arson and after giving multiple warnings  to hiding terrorists, when terrorists still refuse to come out of hiding, the Indian army is left with no choice but to blow up the house.

So Kashmri nationalists are doing their duty for the Nation by putting their homes at risk and informing army.

Army is doing its duty for the Nation by putting their lives at risk and eliminating terrorists.

But is the Indian Government doing its duty?

Who is to take responsibility of rebuilding these damaged homes and dreams?

The Srinagar Encounter at Nawa Kadal,  left 2 Hizbul terrorists dead.

But as a collateral damage it also  Left Kashmiris Homeless In The Middle Of Coronavirus Pandemic.

Shakeela, a resident of Nawakadal, found refuge in a marriage hall after her house was destroyed during an encounter in Srinagar on 19 May.

Switching on the flashlight of her mobile phone, Shakeela was seen searching for her husband’s medical prescriptions in the charred remains of her house on Tuesday night. 

The 50-year-old woman perused the rubble for about 30 minutes before she sat down on a pile of debris and said, “Everything is burnt down. Oh my god, what will I do now? Where would I go? My husband is unwell and my children are young. Where do I take them in this (coronavirus) pandemic?” 

It is unclear how many houses have been destroyed, but according to news reports and residents of Nawakadal the figures range from 12 to 22. 

Personnel of Fire and Emergency Services and civilians douse flames after a house in an encounter at Kani Mazar, Nawa Kadal in Srinagar on Tuesday. PHOTO BY BILAL BAHADUR

On Wednesday, Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, Vijay Kumar, said that three or four residential houses were damaged.  “The weather is quite hot and humid these days, so the wood catches fire immediately and it was a congested locality also,” he said. 

Manoj Pandita, the J&K police spokesperson, said only the IGP, Kashmir and Senior Superintendent of Police, Srinagar, Haseeb Moghul, could comment on how many families have been rendered homeless and if the government will compensate them.  

Moghul, refusing to comment, said the DGP had already spoken on the matter. 

As Shakeela sat in the debris and wept, her neighbour Mymoona rushed over and hugged her. “Please don’t cry, god will resolve everything. Please have faith in god,” she said.  

Shakeela on Tuesday moved her family into a marriage hall in Nawakadal, walking distance from her destroyed house.  

Three other residents of Nawakadal  said they were moving in with their relatives, but Shakeela said that she could not bring herself to impose on her relatives in the middle of a pandemic. 

“We don’t know where we will go. I would have asked neighbours to provide us shelter for a few days, but I am reluctant to ask them for help because it’s not appropriate to trouble others in times of the pandemic,” she said. 

Residents said that the local mosque is asking for donations to take care of people who have lost their homes in the encounter. 

But lets take a moment to ponder. Is it duty of local mosque to resettle these people?

If so then should their loyalty be with these mosques?

If it’s acceptable norm that loyalty of common Kashmiris must be with Govt of India, then shudnt the responsibility to rapidly reform their lives after such life changing traumatic events resulting from co-lateral damage be the responsibility of Govt of India?

Can it even be imagined how much these homeless people are going to suffer while our Authorities are “talking” “discussing” “will get back”….?

Shakeela said, “Who would give us shelter in such times? This is the question I want to ask the police and the central government. What plans do they have for families who have lost their homes during the encounter?”

Seher Irfan, her 17-year-old daughter, said, I remember during this entire Covid-19 period, I would tell my mother to make special iftar during Ramzan and she would always tell me, ‘think of those poor people who don’t have anything to eat, don’t have shelter.’ Today, I could relate to them.”

Irfan said that she saw the J&K police personnel in her neighbourhood in the early hours of Tuesday morning, but this did not bother her because she thought they had come to quarantine someone who had tested positive for Covid-19. 

The police started banging at their door at around two in the morning, Irfan said. Seeing the panic on our faces, the police asked us to relax and said they have come here to search for someone, but they didn’t tell us who they are searching for,” she said. 

When the gunfight started at around seven in the morning, Irfan said the police told residents to leave their homes. 

“We ran barefoot wherever our legs took us,” the teenager said. 

“My father, who has suffered a haemorrhage, grandfather, mother, brother, we all were running to take refuge in someone’s house. This is the first time that I have seen my mother running. My mother pleaded with people to give us shelter. A neighbour opened her house and asked us to stay,” she said.  

With the mobile phone services suspended during the course of the gunfight and subsequent shelling, Irfan said they were cut off from the world for hours, but they knew the encounter was underway because of the gunshots ringing in their ears.   

After the gun battle ended on Tuesday afternoon, Irfan said that people started moving towards their homes.

“My mother broke down after taking the debris of our beloved house into her hands. My father did not say a word when he saw his life’s work destroyed. We have become homeless,” she said.