Yet another tale of torture and harassment.

GKMangwalpora(Handwara), Feb 20: Mangwalpora has been named as a Model Village by the government. It witnessed one of the longest military sieges in the past 18 years of political struggle. The eight-day siege ended this morning. People are recovering from the psychological trauma induced by the siege, which they say was a tactic used by the soldiers and police to “break our will so that we would give false information about militants.”

“But we are proud that we didn’t give up, and defeated their nefarious intentions,” said Bashir Ahmad. The soldiers dug out the floors of rooms in his house.
The soldiers of 30th battalion of Rastriya Rifles and personnel of Special Operation Group (SOG) also dug the houses of several other people in search of “ammunition and hideouts.”
The search operation in Mangwalpora, having a population of 350 people, was the longest in Kupwara and one of the longest in the Valley.
According to the Bashir, the search operation was “collective punishment and mental torture” by the troops of RR and Special Operation Group of Police.
“They thought we would name or blame somebody. But we stand by our unity, besides this is a peaceful village,” Bashir said.
Yesterday the people rejected the eatables brought and offered by the army.
Muhammad Shafi, another resident said, “My house was searched more than 30 times by the troops. In fact there is not a single house which wasn’t searched by troops less than 20 times. But they found nothing. That shows they wanted to harass us.”
He said the troops even snapped the electricity supply to the village on the first day of siege. “They took electric bulbs from the verandahs of our houses and electric poles; it was dark everywhere. We were even deprived of water during the first two days of operation and we used snow,” Shafi added.
Ghulam Muhammad, a resident, said the army choppers made several sorties “quite close to the ground to create fear among people especially the children and women.”
Locals alleged they were detained in two houses during the first three days of the siege. “Men and women were kept in separate houses. We have never witnessed such harassment by troopers. Even an expecting mother was not allowed to be taken to hospital in time. Even after a caesarian, the baby couldn’t survive,” said Muhammad Maqbool Wani..
The troopers had allegedly restricted the villagers from offering prayers in the mosque during the siege. “We were not allowed to call the prayers (Azaan) in the mosque during these eight days and even not allowed to offer the Friday prayers,” Wani added.Two kilometers away from the town, the troops, along with sniffer dogs, were still encircling the town, and frisking everybody who comes out of the village.
Many villagers fear the reprisals by army and SOG.

Courtesy : Greater Kashmir


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