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Thursday, August 11, 2022

Militants set houses on fire to escape from encounters: CRPF chief rebuts Shopian family’s claim

Four days after six houses were gutted in one of the longest gunfights between insurgents and government forces in Jammu and Kashmir’s Shopian, the director-general of paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force on Thursday said that in such cases it is militants who torch houses to flee from encounters.

In the 48-hour long encounter in Rawalpora village of the southern district, 45 kilometres from Srinagar, six houses were levelled with one of the family saying that the military had forced them to burn their houses.

Asked about some houses getting destroyed in Kashmir during encounters with militants and if there is any policy to avoid damage to civilian houses, CRPF Director General Kuldeep Singh told PTI, “This is not an issue of policy. Our experience is if the militant is from the same village where the engagement is taking place, a very large number of people gather, stone-pelting is done, arson takes place to deter the forces from the engagement which is taking place and as there is a lot of arson, there are chances that there is some bit of incident of fire which will take place.”

During the encounter which had erupted on Saturday, last week, two Jaish militants, including a top commander, Vilayat Hussian Lone alias Sajad Afghani was slain after the encounter ended on Monday. Afghani was a native of the village, where protests had erupted during the encounter in which a youth sustained pellet wounds in his eyes.

“So in this case, they (militants) themselves put fire so that they get a chance to escape from the cordon laid by the security forces and the CRPF has a unique capability to fight on both the fronts, facing forward with lethal weapons and towards the rear or on the side of the crowd with non-lethal weapons,” the newly-appointed DG said.

In 2019, six houses were razed down at Gadpora, a neighbouring village in Rawalpora during an encounter in which three militants were killed.

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