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Residents of Kulgam village accuse Army of thrashing locals, vandalizing property

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'70 houses 4 shops and 12 vehicles damaged’

Kulgam, Aug 18: Panic gripped Bhan village of south Kashmir’s Kulgam district on Friday evening after Army troops allegedly went into frenzy and damaged properties besides thrashing the young and the old of the village.

According to the locals, two youth — Fasil Ahmad Bhat, son of Nazir Ahmad Bhat, and Fasil Ahmad Sheikh, son of Bashir Ahmad Sheikh — were also arrested.

Residents of the village said that at around 7 pm on Friday, an Army party visited Bhan village and said that they were pelted with stones in the area. “While blaming the villagers for throwing stones at them, they went on rampage and damaged houses and other property here,” the local residents alleged.

“Not only were the houses damaged but house-hold items like refrigerators, medicines and other things were stolen from shops,” they alleged, adding that most of the damage was witnessed by the Astaan Mohalla.

One of the residents, Sabzar Ahmad, said, “Soon after the forces were pelted with stones, they called for reinforcements and started vandalizing properties here.

“They made an announcement on loudspeakers asking the villagers to hand over the youth who had pelted them with stones, or face consequences,” he added.

Another resident Manzoor Ahmad, whose house and car suffered damages, said, “When forces ran amok in our village, no one dared to come out.”

“At around 10 pm the male residents of Astaan Mohalla were paraded out of their homes while women were asked to stay inside. The army told the men to split into two groups – under-19 and those above 19 years of age. After this the younger lot was thrashed mercilessly,” Ahmad added.

He said the parade lasted till midnight – until the forces left the village.

Meanwhile, Naib Tehsildar, Mohammad Ayoub, visited the area today to take stock of the damage.

During his survey, around 71 houses, 4 shops and 12 vehicles were found damaged in the village;  while different items were also found missing from around 15 shops.

The locals alleged that more than 200 houses were damaged in forces’ action and many items, worth lakhs of rupees were stolen from some shops.

When contacted, Kulgam’s Superintendent of Police said, “I am on a official visit and cannot talk over the issue.”

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