Friday, March 23, 2018 | 1:47 PM

Fear looms in south Kashmir’s Shopian, villagers seek removal of Indian army camps

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

“Every day I tell my sons to return home before sunset because darkness is another torment here,” says Ghulam Rasool Bhat a villager from Pargachi Shopian in south Kashmir while referring to four civilian deaths in Indian army firing in Panhoo on 4 March.

“There was no fear during our childhood but nowadays it is awful. We lost our nine youths. What was their fault and why is army killing our youth,” laments Bhat.

Nine youth were killed in army firing during last two months in Pahnoo, Chaigund and Ganawpora hamlets. With these killings the fear is looming large in the district.

The villagers have lodged strong protests and are observing shutdown for last nine days demanding the removal of army camps in residential areas particularly in Pahnoo where, four civilians and two militants were killed in army firing on March 4.

“We will fight tooth and nail until these camps are removed from here. We cannot see more youth getting killed by army. There is an atmosphere of fear and terror in the town and nearby areas,” said a local from Trenz wishing not to get named.

He said that government must take immediate step to remove this newly established army camp from the area or else men, women and children will hit the streets to lodge an indefinite agitation near deputy commissioner’s office in Shopian.

Prior to the 4 March killings, five civilians were killed during January and February months in different incidents across Shopian. 

On January 24, a civilian Shakir Ahmad Mir of Kalampora and a young girl Saima Wani, sister of the deceased militant Sameer Ahmad Wani were killed during a gunfight between government forces and militants in Chaigund village.

On January 27, three civilians— Javaid Ahmad Bhat of Balpora, Suhail Javaid Lone of Ganawpora and Rayees Ahmed Ganaie of Narpora Shopian were killed after army opened fire on protesters in Ganowpora village.

According to sources, around four Kanals of SKUAST university land in Pahnoo was occupied by army during the 2016 turmoil. The army later established huge garrison on the land despite repeated objection by the SKUAST and the locals.

In 2017 army has established nearly six camps in Shopian district—Dachoo Nagbal army camp in Zainapora area of Shopian, another camp at Chillipora on Shopian-Aglar road, besides three major camps in Nagisharan, Dhobipora and Pahnoo village. (Greater Kashmir)