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Uri residents angry over unretrieved bodies of civilians

Abrar Lone

Uri, January 15, 2008:

Massive protests rocked this frontier town, 100 km from summer capital of Indian administered Kashmir on Monday against army's "apathy" in recovering bodies of civilians killed in an avalanche.

Fifteen people, seven soldiers of Indian Army and eight civilian porters with the army, were buried under an avalanche on January 9 near Line of Control (LoC) at Mayan Uri.

So far six bodies of soldiers have been recovered. However, bodies of civilians are yet to be retrieved from the snow.

On Monday morning the family members of the killed civilians accompanied by other locals came on streets in protest demanding that the Indian Army make as serious efforts to retrieve the civilian porters as it made to retrieve the bodies of soldiers.

The irate people were raising slogans against army and the civil administration.

They pelted stones on police station and disrupted traffic for several hours.

"Six days have passed and army has almost recovered all the bodies of their soldiers. The bodies of our relatives are still trapped there. The army rescue teams don't seem to be bothered about the bodies of civilian workers," said Ashiq Hussain Mir.

Mir's cousin is among the eight porters, feared dead in the avalanche.

Although, government claims that special squads have been pressed into service to recover the bodies, however no civilianís body has been retrieved.

The locals are ready to offer their voluntary service.

"Thirty of us went to the Indian army base camp with the plea to allow us to search the bodies, however only 10 of us were allowed and we could not reach the spot on foot due to heavy snow," said Abdul Salam Mir, Sarpanch (village head) of Mayan village.

Local police officials say they have suggested Indian army officials to depute some specially trained people to retrieve the bodies.

Meanwhile army officials in Srinagar says that rescue operations are going on in the area.



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