Destroyed homes, wrecked lives

  • Aditya Sinha
  • Publish Date: Jan 19 2016 2:53PM
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  • Updated Date: Feb 12 2016 6:56PM
Destroyed homes, wrecked lives

Encounters between government forces and the militants have been a stark reminder of an unending armed conflict in Kashmir over the past 25 years. Decline in the number of militants over the years has meant fewer encounters, especially in Srinagar city. Not so in South and North Kashmir where fresh recruitment to militant ranks has brought the gunfights back – more of them in areas like Pulwama, Kulgam, Shopian and Tral. The recent encounters in south Kashmir point to a disturbing trend – civilian houses are ruthlessly blasted and razed, even on a mere suspicion of the militant presence. And sometimes, as the inhabitants allege, despite no militant being holed up in the houses, the troops have flattened them. Many affected house owners see it as an act of retribution, a collective punishment from government forces to discourage militant presence in civilian areas. Long after the encounters are over, another tragedy unfolds.  The inhabitants are left to pick up the pieces of their wrecked lives. And most of these affected people, as our cover story reveals, have not been paid any compensation so far. In some cases, no compensation has been paid even a year after the the houses were destroyed. Kashmir Ink puts spotlight on some of these encounters in the south where the ‘collateral damage’ has been high. The people also complained that most of the times the encounter sites are not sanitized by the police, exposing them to unexploded explosives.

This issue also features a heart-warming story of communal harmony from a village in Budgam. Also, check out a shocking, eye opening photo-essay by a young photojournalist who travelled across north, south and central Kashmir villages to reveal the sorry state of government school education in Kashmir. There is also an interesting feature about Aligarh Muslim University and its strong connection with Kashmir. As we tell many stories about Kashmir every month, we look forward to engaging feedback from our readers. So far, given the fact that all our previous issues have been sold out from the stands, the response has been encouraging.