‘Dardpora, with over 150 killed since 1989, is back in the news for its suffering’
Kupwara: Despite there not being a single village, mohalla, town or street in Kashmir which was not directly affected by violence, Dardpora village in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, close to the LoC, is ‘unique’ as around 150 people have been killed here since 1989. According to a survey conducted by village heads five years ago, there are 110 widows here, and 250 orphans, most of them uneducated. These, and around 40 other people were killed in different encounters by the army, some were killed in cross-firing, internal militant group clashes, custodial killings, while some were killed by unknown gunmen.
Shabir Khan, a local, said there was “a chain of widows in the village”; some have remarried while others were still struggling to provide for their children. There are also many handicapped people in the village, injured in various violent incidents over the years.
Most people living in the village are labourers, farmers, cattle traders, fire wood traders and a few are in government jobs.
Dardpora, also called a ‘village of widows and orphans’ is divided into two parts, upper Dardpora and lower Dardpora. Most people living in the lower part are Kashmiris and those living in the upper area are mostly Paharis or Gujjars. The village has five panchayats A, B, C, D and E, respectively.
This village of pain, which is only 10-12 kms away from the LoC, was again in the news recently after three civilians, two of them local villagers, went missing, with an army soldier believed to be behind their abduction. Mir Hussain Khatana and Gulam Jeelani Khatana of upper Dardpora under Panchayat Halka ‘A’ were kidnapped, according to their families, by a Territorial army man Manzoor Ahmad Khawaja, of the same village.
Here, many orphans and widows are fending for themselves. For the last few years, there was little violence here, but the abduction of the villagers has again rekindled fears.
According to a village head, three teenagers, one from Dardpora and two from a neighbouring village, had gone missing in 2001 and never returned. Some people, he said, claimed the three had gone to the other side of the LOC, while others said they were killed by the army while crossing the LoC, but nobody knows the facts. He said these two people missing now might also have crossed the LoC, but it was impossible without the support of the army posted in the area.
Khursheed Ahmad, a nephew of Gulam Jeelani, said that, “Jeelani never crossed the border in the past because he is just a labourer, and was working as one for the army a few months ago. We believe they did not cross the ‘border’, maybe they have been killed by someone and the bodies dumped somewhere”.
Another local, Sajad (name changed) said he had confirmed, via a relative in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, that the three missing men were not over there.
A senior citizen of the village, Gulam Mohammad Khan, on his part, wearily said this incident might mean that the ‘chain of widows and orphans’ in the area becomes longer.