Srinagar, May 04 (KMS): In occupied Kashmir, Indian troops during a siege and search operation set ablaze three houses and a cowshed in Turkiwangam area of Shopian district on Wednesday night.

The gutted houses belong to the in-laws of top Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Zeenat-ul-Islam Shah, one of their close relatives and a sub-inspector of local police. The house owners and locals termed arson as an act of vengeance.

“There was no encounter at all and the mujahideen were not hiding in any of the houses which were targeted by the Indian forces,” said Muhammad Ismail, a local resident. Locals who were helping the families clear debris seconded Ismail. “We are not aware of any exchange of fire between the troops and mujahideen at all. What we know is that Indian army arrived at around 4:30 pm and fired indiscriminately at the houses,” Ismail said.

The troops also fired bullets and pellets on protesters, killing a teenage boy and injuring 30 others. The families that lost their shelter are in a state of shock.

“They (troops) showered bullets on our houses when our women and children were inside,” said Muhammad Yousuf Lone, one of the house owners. Lone, an employee with fire and emergency service posted in Srinagar, is father-in-law of Zeenat-ul-Islam. Barely two years after his marriage in 2013, Zeenat-ul-Islam had joined Hizb. He is father of a baby girl.

“The troops had fired at our house for a long time,” said Lone, pointing to bullet marks on the half-burnt damaged walls, doors and windows of his and brother’s houses. He said that the troops had set afire his and his brother’s, houses, cowsheds and stole gold ornaments.

The house of Bashir Ahmad Lone, a sub-inspector of police currently posted at police lines Reshipora in Shopian, was also set ablaze. Bashir, who is a cousin of Lones, said some valuables were also stolen from his home.

The neighbours living near the destroyed houses said that the troops looted their gold ornaments. “They looted gold ornaments worth Rs 3 lac from my house,” a neighbour said.

Another neighbour, Abdul Rasheed Lone, said that Rs 1.5 lac worth of gold ornaments were looted from his house.

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