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Demolition of houses in IIOJK: India following Israeli strategy of ‘new settlements’

India has been demolishing Kashmiri houses to create new settlements. It is aimed at changing the demographics of the region.

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In one of the longest and devastating demolitions of houses carried out by the Indian occupation forces in recent times, large number of Kashmiri families were rendered homeless in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

The military operation ensued a gun battle in the Rawalpora village of IIOJK’s Shopian district resulted in the killing of two local Kashmiri fighters.

One of the six houses razed down belonged to the slain local Sajjad Afghani’s family. The operation continued for over 70 hours. Smoke continued to emanate from the site for days, locals said, as hundreds of people kept visiting the village, surrounded by lush green apple orchards, after the operation, Anadolu Agency reported on Tuesday.

According to a report posted on Agency’s website, the Geneva Convention of 1949, to which India was a signatory, discouraged the use of disproportionate force in armed conflicts.

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“Experts believe the use of disproportionate force in the Kashmir region during military operations is costing too much to the local population,” it added.

Sheikh Showkat Hussain, a political analyst in the region, said under international law, use a disproportionate force in any armed conflict was forbidden.

As per data accessed by the Anadolu Agency, at least 114 residential houses were destroyed in the military operations last year.

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, it was not only collective criminal punishment but harassment against a particular group.

“We possess nothing now. Our shelters were razed to the ground within a blink of an eye for which we took years to build. We were robbed emotionally, physically and mentally. Even our source of income was lost too,” said one of the affected family members, wishing not to be named.

The locals feared further reprisal from the authorities. Some of them had to remain in custody for a fortnight in connection with the same encounter.

Bashir Ahmad (name changed) said that post-encounter they were living in a single room of an old house of a neighbour, and so was another family.

Not a single household item was retrieved during the fake encounter, said a female member of one of the families.

They said the education of their children had also been badly affected due to the displacement.

“It is very hard to live in a single room where all of us have to sleep, dine and cook,” another member of an affected family said, adding that the new accommodation they were putting up in did not have a washroom, forcing them to attend nature’s call in the open.

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These homeless families said they had no means to build new houses due to the lack of resources.

“We could have rebuilt our houses, but our bank accounts were frozen by the authorities after being shared by people on social media,” another family member said.

Courtesy: APP

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