Rashtriya Rifles Men Continue Siege Of Village
9 January 2005
The Indian Express
Srinagar: A day after an Army personnel was killed in an encounter with militants, the siege in the south Kashmir village of Shopian continued amid reports of human rights violations by the troops. Reports of serious rights violations poured in throughout the day from Handow, where a soldier was killed in an encounter with militants after the Army raided their hideout 'Please come to our rescue,' pleaded a girl from Handow, who called The Indian Express office on phone. 'There are only a few men in the village and we have been tortured severely by the Army.' 'There are no reports of any excesses,' said Col. V K Batra, Defence PRO. 'The search in the area continues, and people have been told to come out of their houses to avoid any untoward incident.' This is the second day of the siege of Handow village in Imamsahib, Shopian. Some government teachers, who were attending a training course in the village, said: 'We were locked inside a classroom. Some of us called the Director Education for help and only after his intervention and that of Deputy Commissioner, Pulwama, were we allowed to leave the village in the morning.' The teachers, who were the only people to come out of the besieged village said women were crying for help. 'We heard women screaming for help at around 10 pm,' said one of the teachers, pleading anonymity. The girl who called The Indian Express office, was also weeping. She said the women were ordered to go to their homes in the evening despite their unwillingness. 'We were kept under the open sky up to 10 in the evening. Later, we were ordered to go home while men were retained in the open. Even the Station House Officer (SHO) present there was asked not to interfere by the Army,' alleged the girl. Nobody was allowed to have meals by the Rashtriya Rifles men, said one of the teachers. Late reports from the area say that though the cordon of the area continues, the people were allowed to go to their homes. Deputy Commissioner, Pulwama, Lateef-uz-Zaman Deva, said: 'I can't confirm or deny anything. I received some calls from the village. I have deputed tehsildar of the area and am waiting for his feedback.' However, Superintendent of Police (SP) of the area rubbished the allegations. 'I have deputed my Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) there and we have received no such report,' he said.