“44 militants, 28 civilians, 10 policemen killed, 500 injured, 80 by pellets in eyes, this year”
Shopian, Nov 27: It is not since the 1990s that a place in Kashmir has witnessed so much violence and bloodshed as Shopian has this year. According to official figures, 44 militants, 28 civilians, 10 policemen, and 5 army/paramilitary soldiers have been killed in the district this year, so far. More than 500 people have been injured during this time, according to numbers given out by government hospitals/health centres. Many of them sustained bullet and pellet injuries, with about 80 civilians hit with pellets in their eyes.
Twelve encounters between militants and government forces have taken place in Shopian district this year, during which seven residential houses and two cowsheds have been destroyed with explosives used by government forces.
Of the 10 policemen killed in the district, five were killed while on duty and five were abducted by unknown gunmen from outside their homes.
Police say that with all the militant commanders killed, Shopian now has none left but Zeenat-ul-Islam, who recently joined Al-Badr militant outfit.
“There are many recruits but no commander or any big strategist in the district now,” a senior police officer said, on condition of anonymity.
He said that probably 30 local youths of Shopian survive in militant ranks, after a surge in new recruitments from the month of September this year.
On April 1 this year, 12 militants of Hizb outfit were killed and a month later top Hizb commander Saddam Padder along with four associates, including assistant professor Muhammad Rafi, were killed at Badigam village. Six civilians also lost their lives in that encounter on May 5, after sustaining bullet injuries.
People describe the ongoing violence as akin to that being faced by people of Syria. “I feel it is the survival of the fittest here. We have become desperate after seeing so much blood being spilled on the streets,” said Arshid Aziz, a university student.
People of the district opine that the ongoing killing of militants and civilians is being done in a planned manner. “Nine military installations were set up in different villages of Shopian after the killing of Burhan Wani in 2016. Among them, two were established in the summer this year,” said Nisar Ahmad, a political science researcher who is a native of Shopian district.
Nisar said that Shopian was garrisoned after the “hot bed of militancy” shifted here from Tral area in Pulwama district.
Ghulam Muhammad, a resident of Turkwangam area, told Kashmir Reader that people are scared to go outside their homes during the night. “Most of the people here earn their livelihood by farming. It often gets late in the day working in orchards or loading apple boxes in trucks, but nobody dares to do so now. Everyone is scared and no one knows when he or she may be shot. Military movement goes on most of the times at night and we often wait till dawn even if there is a medical emergency,” he said.