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“Won’t Rent Our Homes To Forces”: Residents Of Srinagar Threaten To Launch Agitation Over Setting Up New Camps

All photos by Auqib Javeed.

Srinagar: Fear has gripped Jogi Lanker area of Srinagar city after security forces identified at least three residential houses for setting up their camps, last week.

Hundreds of people including women and children’ came out of their houses and staged massive protest against the move.

According to locals, Jammu and Kashmir Police (JKP) along with Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) asked the residents to rent out the houses to “accommodate” the paramilitary forces. However, the locals refused and staged demos against the forces.

“I came to know from my neighbours that police have identified my house to accommodate the paramilitary forces and I was shocked to know it,” said Fayaz Ahmad Gasi.

Gasi says he had brought the house from Sheikh Ghulam Muhammad four years ago and has all the documents and proofs that I am the owner of the house.

He says he has three kids and can’t go anywhere to live. “For God sake tell me where I will go, with my family? How can they occupy my house?”

Zahoor Ahmad another local said they (security forces) had come to his home and asked to rent out two stories to accommodate the paramilitary forces but later they found that the building is not safe. Zahoor says it wasn’t possible for him to rent out his house to forces.

Although the government forces haven’t visited the area again since the protest, there is, however, fear among the whole locality and people have warned the administration of any such move.

“I am living with my three daughters, my husband died a few years ago. Tell me how I can live in my house when the neighbours are unknown security forces,” said a woman, who lives adjacent to one of the houses that forces are identified for rent.

She says last week, around 30 security forces armed with assault rifles entered the house of Gasi and were probably identifying the rooms where they could set-up their camps.

“This is a congested area and has remained peaceful since August 5 when the Central government scrapped Article 35-A,” said another woman who wished not to be named.

She added that the government is deliberately trying to disrupt the peaceful atmosphere in the area. “India has crossed all the limits of Zulum in Kashmir,” she says.

“We will die but would not allow any kind of camps here,” she further adds.

According to residents, the local SHO has unleashed the reign of terror in the area. “He doesn’t even spare the women, I was part of the protest and he abused one of the women and I spat on him,” said another woman, adding that this is what she could do.

The inhabitants of the area said that the local SHO is harassing the youth unnecessarily and have demanded his transfer to another area.

“Many youngsters were summoned and detained on the pretext of stone-pelting,” said a local Firdous Ahmad. Firdous says if forces didn’t stop to terrorise them, they will come on the roads.

The locals have sealed the entry inside the locality by digging up the main road.

When The Cognate raised the issue with the concerned SHO Rashid Khan he refuted the allegation and said they aren’t forcing anyone to rent out their homes for accommodations.

“One person is making issues out of nothing and he has assembled many women in the area for the protest. We have registered three FIR’s against him,” he said.

Speaking with The Cognate, Superintendent of Police Srinagar (North) Sajad Shah refuted all the allegations.

“Nobody is forcing anyone, these are all baseless allegations against us,” Shah says. When asked about the alleged harassment by his junior he said, “There are allegations against every police officer.”

He further said if required they will set-up the camp in the area and will follow the proper administrative procedure.

The clampdown in Kashmir continues as restrictions and communication blockade affects normal lives. More than 65 days have passed since the government unilaterally abrogated Article 370 and bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir into two Union territories.

Hundreds, including top politicians, activists, lawyers and businessmen, have been arrested in what the government referred to as “preventive measures” to protest the move.

Since August 5, the Central government has deployed thousands of additional troops in the valley for law and order situation. One can see many new camps being installed across the Kashmir Valley.

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