The three-decade-long insurgency in Kashmir is well known across the world and so is the collateral damage of incidents that has taken place when the security forces engage with the militants. Thousands of civilians have lost their lives during the cross-firing between militants and security forces. But there is another section of people in Jammu and Kashmir, especially in Kashmir Valley who have time and again, incurred huge losses due to the encounters between the armed forces and the militants.

Hundreds of the families have lost their shelters when their houses were turned into ruins and debris by the security forces during the encounters. These poor families neither get any compensation nor can they claim for any other support.

In the recent encounters that took place at Meej Pampore and Zadibal Srinagar, contrary to the trend, all the militants were killed without any damage to the houses of people. At Meej Pampore the militants had taken refuge in a mosque for several hours. During the encounter, two militants were killed without damaging the mosque. In another incident, three local militants were killed in a gunfight in a congested locality of Srinagar’s Zadibal area. The owner of the house where the militants were hid requested them on the loudspeaker to surrender so that his house could be spared from massive damage. Albeit the militants did not surrender and were killed during an hours-long encounter. Again, the security forces showed maximum restraint and the house was not damaged. Now the question arises that if the operation is possible without damaging the properties, then why didn’t’ the police and other paramilitary forces show such kind of restraint earlier? Nevertheless, the militancy still exists in Kashmir Valley and almost every day the people witness such kind of encounters. In this situation, a common man in Kashmir can only hope that the SOPs which were followed by security forces in these recent encounters- where the properties were not damaged- would be followed in the future too, so that the properties of innocent people could be saved. The damage could be far less severe if the security forces would not opt for shortcuts to neutralise the militants.

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