Armymen come knocking at night, villagers protest
Mir Ehasan, May 26, 2006, Indian Express,
Srinagar, May 25: AS security was beefed up in the entire Kashmir to prevent any militant strike on the eve of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit here, villagers of Seer Hamdan in South Kashmir alleged that Army had tried to “attack” the families belonging to the minority community living in the village. Army termed the allegations baseless.
This morning, villagers along with the members of minority community took to streets at Seer Hamdan Mattan, the protestors were demanding action against the Armymen who had tried to enter the houses belonging to the minority community at night. They said the attempt was foiled as the villagers had raised an alarm forcing the army personnel to flee.
The villagers said that last night around 11 pm, soldiers of 3 Rashtriya Rifles came to the village and told the Hindu families that they have search their houses, however, the villagers got scared and locked themselves in their houses. The villagers alleged the army personnel also harassed the policemen guarding the houses of the minority community.
Station House Officer, Mattan, said that last night an army patrol was in the village and had knocked at the doors of the houses belonging to Hindu families. “First the villagers took them as militants and thought the militants had come to the village with bad intentions,” he said. “The Armymen later clarified that they had gone there to check about the safety measures of the Hindu families. “We have sent a detailed report to our seniors,” they said.
Terming the allegations baseless, Army spokesman, Lt Col V K Batra said the Army had sufficient intelligence inputs that before the roundtable conference militants will try to target families of minority community. “On Wednesday night, area domination party of 3 Rashtriya Rifles went to the Seer village to coordinate with the police about the surveillance and security of the minority families. Only to prevent any untoward incident,” he said. Batra said the allegations by certain people that Army went there to harm the minority community is absolutely ridiculous and baseless.
However, the villagers are not ready to accept the version put forward by the Army and the police that troops had come to check the safety of Hindu families. “Why should the army personnel come to enquire about families at night. Also the police personnel guarding the families were kept in dark,” said Ghulam Hassan, a village elder. “People are sure the troops were planning some thing nasty,” they said.
Three Hindu families comprising of 12 members are being guarded by six policemen. And the villagers were adamant that police should register a case against the Army. Only after Additional Deputy Commissioner and Senior Superintendent of Police Anantnag gave assurance that the matter will be taken up with the senior Army officials and a case will be registered against the troops, the villagers called off their protest.