Indo-Pak Affairs

Villagers dislodged from houses fail to get redress even after 17 years

SRINAGAR: Seventy-year-old Abdur Razzaq Bhat burst into tears while narrating how Army dislodged his family from Bore, a small border hamlet in Kupwara district of north Kashmir when militancy broke out in the Valley 17 years ago. Bhat’s family is one among the 13 families dislodged forcibly by Army in 1990 for “security reasons.” Since then the families have been roaming from pillar to post in search of a permanent shelter. “It was December 8, 1990 when soldiers barged into our village and forcibly occupied our houses,” Bhat, a poor farmer told reporters.

“The soldiers evacuated us in the dead of the night and promised that we’ll be brought back after some days.” The promise has had proved hollow. According to Bhat, the Army has clearly refused to vacate the village citing security reasons. He said that movable and immovable property of the 13 families has been under the Army occupation, rendering the families shelter less. “The Army has planted countless mines in our land and declared it as ‘no man’s land’,” Bhat said.

“Our property including our houses and hundreds of acres of land was destroyed because of the heavy shelling between Indian and Pakistani soldiers at the Line of Control.” When Bhat and other villagers sought rehabilitation, they failed. This forced them to move court, which asked the Army to consider their return. Bhat said that no one from the state administration cared for the well being of the dislodged families, except for issuing orders of rehabilitation and monetary compensation. “We have just received Rs one lakh as compensation for our houses,” Bhat said. “The government didn’t rehabilitate and compensate us for our land.”

An order from the Home Department also mentions enhancement of relief to these border migrants, including free food grains, cash assistance etc. But, according to Bhat, the villagers didn’t receive any compensation, except “some peanuts” till 2000. “The cash relief of Rs 1,000 per month has not been paid since 2000,” Bhat said. “Our children are facing tremendous difficulties. Because of the financial constraints, we cannot educate them.” The villagers approached the district administration authorities many a time, but “they turned down our requests, citing paucity of funds,” Bhat said.

In his plea addressed to Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Bhat writes: “Sir, we are the victims of acute poverty and are living under the open sky since 1990. We are facing many problems due to non-availability of residential houses, land, and relief. We request you come to our rescue by compensating us for our land and providing us shelter.” -SANA

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Mubashar Nizam

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