While the valley remains shut, a government department is silently tending to the victims of a different sort – the electricity transformers installed in every neighbourhood. The electricity transformers are the fresh targets of police and paramilitary forces in the valley. The official figures reveal that more than 35 transformers have been hit by bullets – all in their oil tanks.
“In Anantnag, more than 20 transformers have been damaged by the bullets,” Executive Engineer Power Development Department (PDD) Mushtaq Ahmad Shah told The Indian Express. “In Brakpora village, three transformers have been damaged while four have been hit in Fatehpora and eight in Dialgam. Two transformers have been damaged in Verinag and Botengoo each while three have been hit by bullets in Hiller”.
The officials of the department say that the trend started a few weeks back and everyday the number of transformer hit by the bullets is increasing. The concerned officials have already shot a letter to the higher authorities.
Villagers in south Kashmir say that before entering into the village for a night raid, police and paramilitary forces shoot the oil tank of the transformer to plunge the locality into darkness.
“They think by shutting down the electricity their job would be easier,” says a resident of Dialgam. “But more than that it is a collective punishment for all of us. It takes many days and in some cases weeks for the transformer to be repaired and re-installed”.
The residents also see it as a ‘pressure tactic’ to make people submit to the forces. “Our transformer was damaged last week and is yet to be repaired. It is not just in our locality but whole village has been plunged into the darkness just because we had organized a rally,” says Aamir Hassan, a resident of Fatehpora village in Anantnag.
Executive Engineer Shah says that bullets cause oil spill and render the transformer useless. “The oil spills out and the coil is also damaged,” he says. “Now, we have to keep the workshop open all the time to bear the extra burden that has been put on us. I have written to my higher-ups about it”.
In the past two weeks, the PDD officials have received nine transformers at their workshop in Sopore for repairs. The officials say the transformers were hit by the bullets.
“We have received nine bullet-hit transformers from Sopore and Pattan. All of them were hit in their oil tanks,” said a senior official of PDD. “Earlier they (forces) had told us several times to shut the electricity supply to Sopore and other areas but we refused. The locals tell us that they (forces) are deliberately firing on these transformers.”
Deputy Commissioner Anantnag Abid Rashid said that he will look into the matter.