PULWAMA — Mohammad Yaqoob Bhat, an orchard owner in southern Kashmir’s Pulwama district, expressed dismay on Wednesday as thieves ravaged his high-density apple orchard in a daring overnight raid.

Situated in Pirpora area of Arihal village, Bhat reported that approximately 30 to 35 high-density apple trees, planted two years ago and already yielding produce, were forcibly uprooted with shovels during the dark hours between Monday and Tuesday.

The financial blow is severe for Bhat and his family, who invested heavily in the orchard using proceeds from his wife’s jewellery. He estimated the loss to exceed one lakh rupees, undermining their hopes for a better quality of life.

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Expressing suspicion, Bhat suggested the involvement of local drug addicts, citing the audacity required for such a brazen act under the cover of night.

In a plea for assistance, Bhat called upon district authorities and law enforcement to take swift action, urging the police to apprehend the perpetrators and seek justice for the theft.

The incident resonates beyond Bhat’s personal loss, signalling a broader concern in southern Kashmir, where many farmers have transitioned to high-density apple cultivation.

Following the introduction of high-density plantations in 2015-2016, the region has witnessed a shift away from traditional apple varieties to more modern cultivars from around the world.

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