Army starts ‘Operation Census’ in North Kashmir

The troops of the Army’s counter insurgency force,Rashtriya Rifles,are going from house to house collecting every detail of families in a particular locality.

Written by Mir Ehsan | Baramulla | Published:March 9, 2009 10:20 am

In North Kashmir’s Baramulla town,the Army has started a different kind of operation – “Operation Census”. The troops of the Army’s counter insurgency force,Rashtriya Rifles,are going from house to house collecting every detail of families in a particular locality.

Soldiers who are part of this “new census” claim that the collection of details is related to security reasons. “We are doing this survey on instructions of our seniors,” said a group of army personnel attached with Army’s 46 Rashtriya Rifles soon after coming out from a house in Kantbagh locality. “We collect every detail during this survey,like number of family members,individual details,vehicle numbers and the telephone numbers used by the family members,” the soldiers said.

The RR soldiers said that they have been asked to collect details from every house of the locality. “We are obeying orders,” the soldiers said while entering into another house.

Locals,however,are surprised with the Army’s latest ‘Census’ and term the collection of personnel details by the Army as intrusion to privacy. “This morning Army personnel knocked at our door and started asking individual details regarding our family members both men and women,” said Mohammad Ashraf a resident of Gutiyar Kantbagh locality. “The army men noted down all the details,even telephone numbers used by the family members before they left,” he said. “They (army men) collected similar details from other house owners as well.”

This is the first time that such type of survey is being conducted by the Army in the town and the people have apprehensions that personnel details or telephone numbers could be misused. “Baramulla is a peaceful town and no militancy related incident has taken place here in the past one year. The collection of personnel details by army is unjustified. It’s the job of revenue department or police,” said Ashiq Hussain,a resident of Kanli bagh locality where similar survey has already been done by the Army. “If army requires any information why don’t they seek it from the local police stations or revenue authorities,” he questioned. “There is every possibility that personnel details could be misused.”

Defence spokesman Colonel Rana said that at times troops seek information from the prominent citizens in any locality. “I don’t think every house holder is being asked for his personnel details,” he said. When asked about Baramulla,the spokesman said “It’s possible that army men must be doing it at local level.”

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