Imagine the house you live in being raised to ground and you don’t even know whether the land that once held your house still belongs to you. The papers like most of your valuables might have perished in the debris of your once home. This is a possibility if you live in kashmir and an armed rebel happens to be trapped in your area. Then for no crime of yours, your house may turn into dust.

As the recent encounter at Nawakadal in old city of Srinagar came to an end, more than fifteen houses were damaged by the action of Indian Security Forces while killing  two armed rebels. As soon as the encounter started, the internet and mobile services were snapped in the city (the internet services are still suspended in the Srinagar city), removing any chance of information leaving the encounter site. According to the local newspaper, several loud blasts were heard during the 14 hour long encounter. During this time houses were blasted at a regular interval. Less help was taken of other tactics to fight the rebels.

As the encounter was going on the locals living around the encounter site were asked by the forces to leave their houses. And  while leaving, according to locals they could not take the valuable items with them. More than 15 houses were gutted down during the course of the encounter which ended with the life of two rebels. Four houses also collapsed due to the effect of blasts. Four people were injured in the collapse, a thirteen year old boy among them  died a day later. Houses that took years of earnings to be built were gutted down without any thought or concern for the people living there.

Post Encounter saw the heart wrenching scenes of people crying over the debris of their once standing houses. According to a video which went viral on the social media, a woman claimed that they were asked to leave their houses during the encounter. But as they returned to their homes, to their utter shock all their valuables were missing. Even the cooking cylinders were not there.

The police refused to admit any of such claims. According to a local newspaper, police claimed, only 4-5 houses were damaged. And rejecting the allegation of stealing from houses, police said that they are a professional force.

This is not the first time that houses have been blasted during an encounter. Almost every encounter in Kashmir ends up with the debris of the house where apparently the rebel took shelter. And usually these are more than one house. The encounter couple of weeks earlier which saw killing of Hizb Commander Riyaz Naikoo also ended in the house being raised to ground. The video of forces blasting the house to the dust went viral on social media.

In a fight between rebels and security forces, the rebel may lose his life or may escape. Some among forces might get injured or killed but some of the houses in the encounter area are sure to get damaged.

Hamaad Habibullah is a student at Jamia Millia Islamia


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