Srinagar: People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday said that she was barred from travelling to the Tral area of South Kashmir to visit a family which had alleged harassment by the Army on Monday night.
“Locked up in my house today yet again for attempting to visit the village in Tral allegedly ransacked by the army. This is the real picture of Kashmir that visiting dignitaries must be shown instead of the Government of India’s(GOI) sanitised and guided picnic tours,” Mehbooba said.
The former chief minister had yesterday tweeted about the incident claiming that personnel from Indian Army’s Yagwani camp in Tral area had assaulted a family during a nocturnal raid leading to hospitalisation of one of the members.
“Army from Yagwani camp in Tral ransacked homes and ruthlessly thrashed a family last night. The daughter owing to her serious injuries was admitted to hospital. Not the first time that civilians from this village have been beaten up by the army in this area,” Mehbooba tweeted.
Srinagar-based defence spokesperson Colonel Emron Musavi, however, refuted the allegations against army personnel calling them “baseless.”
Ghulam Qadir Chopan, a local sarpanch, while confirming about the raid said almost the entire village was alarmed during the incident. Ghulam Qadir told NewsClick that the villagers including him were alerted after they heard cries in the neighbourhood following which they gathered close to the house. “I saw their daughter lying on the ground following which she was taken to the hospital. Later, the police officers including the superintendent of police reached to the spot,” Ghulam Qadir said.
The family of Ali Mohammad Chopan, a resident of Seer Jageer village alleged that officials from the Yagwani army camp attacked his house while they were having dinner.
“My daughter and daughter in law were pleading before an army officer asking him why they were assaulting them. He kicked my daughter following which she fainted and was hospitalised,” Ali Mohammad said during a protest held in the village.
The protest was held by the family and locals from the village following the incident, a video of which was later widely shared on social media. The family alleged that they are being targeted by the armed forces without a reason.
Ali Mohammad added that one of their relatives was a militant – identified by security officials as Abdul Hamid Chopan – who was killed in August. The officer, however, from the camp continues to harass them. The villagers from Seer allege that many of their boys have been beaten up by the army soldiers.
Tral, a cluster of over fifty villages, remained at the centre of militant resurgence between 2015-18 especially in the backdrop of being the hometown of Hizbul Mujahideen’s Burhan Wani. But, senior security officials have claimed that the influence of Wani and his outfit has waned in the area where no known local recruit of the outfit is active currently, a first since insurgency broke out in the region more than thirty years back. There is, however, at least one militant listed from the area believed to be in Pakistan.
Many villagers from across South Kashmir have levelled similar allegations of harassment, abuse and persecution against the police and the armed forces especially after the abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A. These charges, however, have been repeatedly refuted by the forces.
Colonel Emron in a statement issued on Wednesday said an army night domination party, while moving near Arapal Nala, which passes through the village, spotted two persons and were being questioned following which Chopan and his family members came out of their house, which is nearby.
“As soon as they came out of the house, Ishrat Jaan, daughter of Ali Mohd Chopan, feigned fainting and the family members started shouting. They called other villagers also and started blaming Army for ransacking the house and beating the girl,” the spokesperson said.
He added that the army personnel were neither close to the house nor to the girl when she fainted. The army officer also accused the family of aiding a Jaish e Mohammad (JeM) militant Saifullah, who was killed earlier last month on August 21.
The army spokesperson said they are filing complaints with the Jammu & Kashmir Police against people who, they believe, are spreading “rumours” and “feeding false information” to incite citizens against the Indian Army.