At least six houses were gutted in one of the longest gunfights in Jammu and Kashmir in which a top Jaish-e-Muhammad commander and his aide were slain with a family claiming that the “military forced them to burn down their house”.
Reports said the gunfight in Rawalpora village was the longest and perhaps most intense after the killing of Riyaz Naikoo, a top commander of Hizbul-Mujahideen who was killed in May last year.
In the encounter that lasted for over 45 hours spanning three days, Vilayat Hussain Lone, alias Sajid Afghani, the top commander of Jaish-e-Muhammad was slain, at his native village, 45 kilometres from Srinagar, the summer capital of the disputed region.
The encounter started on March 13, evening, when the Jammu and Kashmir Police and Army launched a search operation in the village and armed forces received a tip of the presence of suspected militants in a house, where one militant was killed during the operation. The encounter started again after two days when fresh firing erupted between militants and armed forces at Rawalpora encounter site where the Jaish militant was still believed to be trapped.
The encounter led to the gutting of six residential houses and household property worth crores was reduced to ash. The local’s claim the houses were razed down in a row during the operation.
As per reports, “locals blame Indian government forces for the destruction of these houses. The Print reported that one resident alleged his neighbour’s livestock — cows and sheep — had got buried under rubble, while a family claimed they were forced to help set their home on fire by security forces personnel who suspected a militant to be holed up inside.
In 2019, six houses were razed down at Gadpora, a neighbouring village in Rawalpora during an encounter in which three militants were killed.