Abid Hussain

Ichgam residents accuse forces of thrashing civilians

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Ichgam (Budgam), Aug 26: The government forces on Sunday allegedly went berserk at Ichgam village of Budgam district as they resorted to vandalism and thrashed civilians during a nocturnal raid.

Locals of Ichgam told ‘Kashmir Images’ that the army and Special Operation Group (SOG) personnel barged into their homes at around 1 am and beat inmates, besides damaging their property.

“The army and SOG men smashed windowpanes of residential houses and parked vehicles,” they said, adding that windows and doors of their houses were also damaged.

Witnesses said that forces rampaged through the village for about one-and-half hour and terrified the villagers. “It was a horrible experience. We don’t understand why the forces resorted to such a behavior in our village.”

They said that even local mosque was not spared. “Glasses of Masjid were also smashed.”

A local boy told ‘Kashmir Images’ that his father was thrashed by the men in uniform. “Bruises are visible on the back of my father.” This reporter later clicked the pictures of his father’s back which had clear signs of injuries on his body.

Villagers said that before leaving the village, forces detained a civilian, identified as Mohammad Ashraf, a mason by profession.

According to locals, the forces’ action was apparently a “retribution” for a recent incident when few gunmen barged inside the police post Ichgam and thrashed policemen.

They added that Ashraf had saved cops at police post a day before from unknown gunmen. “He should have been lauded by police. However, he was arrested.”

Locals said, Ashraf was coincidentally present on the spot when unknown gunmen barged inside the police post. “He then persuaded militants and saved the lives of cops.”

Meanwhile, the mother of Ashraf told ‘Kashmir Images’ that she was also thrashed. “Besides detaining my son, I was also abused and beaten by forces.”

She said that her family members tried to persuade army about the innocence of Ashraf, but to no avail.

According to villagers and family members, Ashraf always remains busy with his profession and was never involved in any unlawful activity.

“My son is a mason. He’s innocent. He has three daughters,” said the mother. “I request the government to release my son.”

Meanwhile, Army spokesperson Col Rajesh Kalia could not be contacted for comments.

However, SHO Budgam, Rafi Shah refuted the allegations of vandalization. About detained civilian, he said, “One person was picked up by the police for questioning. He will be released within couple of hours.”

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