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Village vouches for innocence of Budgam family accused of harbouring militants..

On the cold night of March 24, the Khans were in deep sleep in their small one-storey house in the Arizal village of Khansahib, in Budgam. A low compound wall around the green house with a pitched roof of corrugated tin had never been raised to a level where it could guard the family from any danger. Perhaps the Khans knew that no matter how strongly you fortify the boundary wall it can come undone at the slightest push.
At around 1 a.m. the government forces jumped over the stone boundary wall and began violently banging the entrance door to the home. The Khans were awakened by loud shouts. Tall men in olive green and khaki forced their way into the home asking the barely awake family to move out. Still groggy from sleep, the family with three small kids behind them staggered out into the compound.The soldiers began asking them where they had hidden the militant they had been harbouring. Disregarding their denial, the soldiers went from room to room looking for the militant and found nothing. While the family was shivering in the cold outside the house, the soldiers lit up the compound and the neighbouring area with emergency lights. What happened after that no one in the family can clearly sketch out in detail.
All that the Khans remember is the sound of shooting. As they cowered in fear, one on another, the seventeen-year-old Humaira Khan, one of the four siblings, felt a twinge of pain in her left leg. In the shooting a bullet had gone through her leg. Nearby, they saw the body of a young man lying on a patch of green grass in the compound. The government forces said that the body was that of a Lashkar militant Shafat Hussain Wani who had been shot.
The government forces blame the Khans for harbouring the militant and have taken the twenty-six-year-old Maqsood Khan in custody for what the forces say is a grave offence. The family says the forces have concocted the story to frame Maqsood. The family says had they been harbouring the militant, the government forces would have destroyed their home using explosives as they normally do while killing besieged militants. The family says the militant was killed in their compound whose wall could easily be scaled by even a young boy.
“I am dying with pain, I am not able to walk even few steps. The bullet is still in my left hip. What was my fault? Why was I targeted? On top of it, it gets more painful that my brother has been taken away by forces for no fault of his,” said Humaira from her bed in which she is lying after she was brought back from a Srinagar hospital on Tuesday.
In the few hours that she has been home, dozens of women and men have come to see her to show their love and sympathy for her and the Khans and all in unison profess the innocence of the family.
Maqsood, who drives a cab to feed his own family and his three siblings who lost their father many years back, is now staring at an uncertain future with the police preparing the case to charge him with harbouring a militant, an offence that can land Maqsood in prison for many years.
While the Khans were looking after Humaira as she was bleeding from the gunshot, they allege that the government forces went into their home and stole gold bangles, ear rings, and fourteen thousand in cash.
“They say that the militant was hiding inside our home which is not true. They found militant outside our home, we don’t know where he came from, our courtyard is open, and anyone can enter our home. Had the militant been inside our home it would have been destroyed by the forces. They searched our home and found nothing,” said Mahboob Khan, another son.
Tejinder Singh, the police head for the Budgam district, said: “We have already lodged FIR against him as he is involved in harboring militants, we will prove the issue in the court of Law,” he told the Greater Kashmir. When he was told that the family accused the forces of stealing jewelry and some cash he said: “We will ask the family how they possess precious jewelry,” he said.

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