Damaged houses injures, bear testimony to Sarore horror

Burnt houses, injured bear testimony to Sarore horrorAs the Jammu Development Authority (JDA) and the Samba district administration are trying to shift blame onto each other, affected Gujjars today said brutal force was unleashed on them on February 22 to evict them from the land where they had been putting up for over three decades.
They blamed a local politician for the eviction drive.
The KIF team today talked to the JDA, Samba district administration, police, local BJP MLA Chander Prakash Ganga and also met affected Gujjars to have a close look into the sequence of events that unfolded on the day when Yaqoob Muhammad, 24, father of two minor children, was killed in alleged police firing in Sarore.
During the clashes, Yaqoob was shot in the head. Another Gujjar member Farman Ali, 17, received a bullet in his shoulder.
Sarore in Samba district is around 17 km from Jammu city and is situated on the Jammu-Pathankot highway.
Amid claims and counterclaims, Gujjar families said they were living on 24.4 kanals for the past over three decades. They also produced ration cards, voter cards and Aaadhar cards issued to them by the successive regimes to substantiate their claims.
Concrete houses razed to the ground by three bulldozers, burnt hutments, which once had thatched roofs, heaps of burnt and smoldering fodder and Gujjar men with serious injuries bear testimony to what might have happened on the day of the clashes last week.
Today, the only concrete structure that still stands intact in Sarore Adda is a mosque.
On February 22, a police team from Himachal Pradesh accompanied by the Bari-Brahmana police had gone to Sarore Adda to arrest Gulzar Hussain, wanted in a theft case.
Simultaneously, an eviction drive was also launched with the assistance of a strong posse of policemen.
While the JDA and the Samba district administration try to shift responsibility onto each other, Gujjars dubbed the Himachal Police team’s raid and simultaneous eviction drive a deep-rooted conspiracy.
A police officer, who refused to come on record as an official inquiry was in progress, however, said the Himachal Pradesh Police team and local policemen were held hostage by the Gujjars and were released only after the intervention of senior police officers.
Governor NN Vohra has ordered an inquiry into the incident.
“Gulzar Hussain could not be arrested. An eviction drive was going on normally till 3 pm before the situation turned ugly and Gujjars attacked policemen and snatched two rifles — an SLR and a carbine — from two policemen,” the police officer said.
“We have recovered the guns but not their magazines,” he added.
“We had to use tear-smoke shells and fire in the air to prevent the mob from attacking policemen and resist the eviction drive,” he said.
He, however, evaded a direct reply on Yaqoob’s death, saying, “The investigations are on. The recovered guns have been sent to a forensic laboratory and the truth will come out. A policeman fires straight as a last resort in self-defence.”
Recalling the incident, Yaqoob’s father Reham Ali (60) said, “After we got a call that houses had been set afire and were being dismantled while women and children were being beaten up, I along with my son Yaqoob rushed to Sarore Adda from Rakh Bharotian on a motorcycle.”
He alleged that a police officer fired three rounds at the protesting mob. “One hit Yaqoob, second hit Farman and third hit a buffalo,” he claimed.