On early morning Monday, at around 6: 15 am, Wakeel Ahmad of south Kashmir’s Sugan hamlet woke up to a loud noise.
It was a blast.
After eating his sehri, pre-dawn meals in the holy month of Ramzan, Ahmad has not even slept for an hour when the explosion disturbed his sound sleep.
Soon after the blast, Ahmad said, the loud thud was followed by bullet shots.
“Afterwards, everything fell silent for some time,” Ahmad, a private school teacher, told The Kashmir Press.
On inquiring what had happened, he came to know that an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) had triggered a blast. It had hit an army vehicle and partially damaged it.
“Minutes after the blast, the government forces went berserk, destroying everything that came in front of them,” he said.
“They damaged our apple orchards spread over 20 canals. At least 20 apple trees were uprooted while more than 300 trees got damaged. Our losses are huge,” he said.
According to him, “They (the troopers) damaged our washing machines, scooters, fridges, cars, televisions set, inverters, geysers, and almost everything that came in their way. The losses incurred are more than a crore rupee.”
Some residents of Sugan told The Kashmir Press that “the damages done by government forces were irreparable.”
“This year, the apple orchards will fetch a mere 20,000 rupee per farmer. What will we do of that, we are ruined,” said Irshad Ahmad, a local.
He said he earns a meagre 3,000 rupees per month.
“It is sheer injustice. What was our mistake? We didn’t plant the IED. Why were we targeted then? Who will repair our losses,?” he asked.
He alleged that “the forces also misbehaved with women”.
“Even cattle were not spared. They thrashed cows they refer to as ‘mata’.”
He said that one of his cows was expecting and she suffered miscarriage due to the beating by government forces.
Villagers urged upon the authorities to “rein in the armed personnel and stop them from committing gross human rights violations in Kashmir”.
“We have nothing to do what happened, why victimise us?” they asked.
In a video that has gone viral, the father of active Hizb commander Zeenat-ul-Islam has alleged that “the government forces vandalised our house, stole money worth INR 22,000 and a mobile phone, and also damaged a laptop worth INR 70,000.”
The defence spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia said they were ascertaining the facts about the allegations made by the residents.
“Only then we will be able to comment on the issue,” he said.