Villagers start night vigil of their orchards
By: Ahmad Shabir
Anantnag: With apple harvesting season at its peak across Kashmir, stealing of packed apple boxes in different parts of south Kashmir has left the apple growers worried.
From last couple of weeks reports of stealing of apple boxes are being received from many parts of south Kashmir including Pulwama, Kulgam and Anantnag with latest burglary being reported from Wachpora area of Pulwama.
Reports reaching from the area said that the thieves on Monday night stole at least 250 high quality apple boxes from the orchard of a villager, Irshad Ahmad. The apples , according to villagers after being packaging had been stored in a shed and were to be transported to outside Mandi next morning.
A villagers told Precious Kashmir over phone that the cost of stolen apples must not have been less than Rs 2.50 lakhs.
Last week, thieves in Bugam village of neighboring Kulgam district, reportedly stole at least 300 boxes stuffed with quality apples. Over 250 stolen apple boxes belonged to a villager identified as Mohammad Maqbool while rest belonged to his cousin.
Maqbool later told the reporters that all the 300 apple boxes were stored in the orchard after packaging.
“As I visited my orchard on the morning of September 27, I found all the packed apples missing. Even around 30 apple boxes of my cousin had also been stolen,” he said.
He said that going by the market rate, burglars have simply robbed him of Rs 3 lakhs.
Similarly in Sirhama village of Anantnag , one of the biggest fruit producing villages in the district, thieves a few days back stole around 200 apple boxes from the orchard of a villagers. Before the major theft, some more villagers had complained of theft of dozens apple boxes from their orchards. Reports of stealing of hundreds apple boxes were also received from Satkipora village of Bijbehara few days ago, however the reports of burglary from the village could not be confirmed officially or from the owner.
Due to the increasing incidents of stealing of apple boxes during night hours, people in many villages of south Kashmir besides reporting to police have decided to keep a secret night watch of their orchards.
“Now many people return from their orchards late in the evening while others who have proper sheds in the orchards prefer to sleep there only,” said a resident of the village from Bijbehara.
As a result of night watch, some villagers, he said , caught the load carrier of thieves during the night while they were trying to lift the apple boxes. Though the thieves managed to flee from the spot but the residents said that it became easy for the police to arrest the thieves identifying them from the number of their vehicle.
Many farmers speaking to this newspaper said that that the increasing cases of burglaries have left them worried.
“A farmer puts his sweat and blood throughout the year to ensure that he has a quality fruit and in abundance but it is no less than a devastation for him when thieves lay their hands on his produce at the time of harvesting,” an orchardist from Kulgam told Precious Kashmir.