//Army men burn houses in Bandipore village

Army men burn houses in Bandipore village

Nazir Masoodi, NDTV.COM, Tuesday, July 4, 2006 (Bandipore):

The encounter on Sunday between the militants and the Indian Army in Gamru village near Bandipore has changed dozens of lives.

Raja lost her home and her means of livelihood. Her four cows have been burnt to death, allegedly by the security personnel.

Seven other houses were destroyed in that fire leaving nearly a dozen families homeless.

A soldier also lost his life in the battle where two militants were killed.

Loss of property

But for the villagers, there is no reasoning acceptable enough to explain why their property was destroyed, especially as the militants were killed quite a distance from their burnt down homes.

"There was no need for such devastation. A large number of troops had come here and they have cordoned off the village. Militants could not flee from here. They have harmed us by burning our houses," said Ghulam Hassan, a villager.

The villagers accuse the security personnel of not allowing fire tenders to rush to the aid of the stricken villagers.

"What Manmohan Singh and other ministers said that there will be no violation and no atrocities and houses will not be set on fire, all that has proved wrong. There was no militant in the houses which have been gutted," said Abdul Rahim, another villager.

So far, neither has the Army nor the civil administration offered them any compensation, let alone assess their loss.

As the people are alleging mass punishment by the Army after the encounter, they are now questioning PM's promise of zero tolerance against human rights violations in Kashmir.

They say if militants were killed 200 meters away why the houses were gutted down in the village.