Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The One With Same Day, That Year | Sopore- 6th Jan

Although ,today in Iqbal Market, Sopore, we may not find any traces of the carnage which was carried out by the indian troops (6th,Jan. 1993)but the dreadful event left a permanent impression in the minds of people. People have just forgotten about it now. What a pity..


Flash back
Seventeen years after the Sopur massacre, justice eludes the residents of this apple town as perpetrators of the carnage have not been punished and the case is still ‘under investigation’ with the Central Bureau of Investigation.
On January 6, 1993, the paramilitary Border Security Force personnel murdered 55 civilians and torched more than 300 houses and shops in retaliation to the killing of their colleague.
Eyewitnesses told Greater Kashmir that in the morning on the fateful day, militants killed a BSF trooper and fled with his rifle. “Within minutes dozens of BSF personnel descended on the market and cordoned off the area. They resorted to indiscriminate firing on civilians,” they said.
Recalling the fateful day, the President of Traders Federation Sopur, Ghulam Nabi Khan, says that naked dance of death and destruction was unleashed by the BSF men for hours here.
“They were raining bullets on men, women and children at random. They herded civilians in shops and houses, splashed kerosene over their bodies and roasted them alive,” he says adding that the soldiers didn’t even spare the kids.
“They threw a child in fire before killing his mother. They sprinkled gunpowder on a bus coming from Bandipora and torched alive its passengers,” he added.
A local resident, Muhammad Shaban Bhat, said his brother-in-law Ghulam Nabi tried to help the injured and retrieve the bodies from the market but was also shot dead by troopers.
“Braving bullets, he brought 11 bodies and then was shot too,” Bhat said.
Following the massacre, the residents registered FIR against 94 battalion of BSF accusing them of firing on civilians without provocation. The troopers also registered an FIR against unidentified militants stating that civilians were killed in cross-firing.
President of Sopur Bar Association, Muhammad Maqbool Mir, said that killer troopers involved in the gruesome incident were not punished till date.
“Neither the case witnessed progress nor the men involved were punished or charge-sheeted,” he said.
An official of Sopur Police Station told Greater Kashmir that the case was being investigated by CBI. “The case is pending with CBI,” he said.
The massacre evoked international attention and dominated headlines in several leading newspapers and magazines of the world.
“The incident is one of the worst atrocities by Indian paramilitary forces in their attempt over the past three years to crush an uprising by Muslim militants in Kashmir,” read the Independent.
Talking to Greater Kashmir over phone, CBI spokesperson Harsh Bhal said that case was under investigation.

“Perhaps there is special corner in hell reserved for soldiers who fire their weapons indiscriminately into a crowd of unarmed civilians. That, at least, must have been the hope of every resident who defied an army-enforced curfew in the Kashmiri town of Sopore last Thursday to protest a massacre that left 55 people dead and scores injured. It was India’s latest blow in a three-year campaign to crush the predominantly Muslim state’s bid for independence. In retaliation for the killing of one soldier, paramilitary forces rampaged through Sopore market setting buildings ablaze and shooting bystanders.”
Rising Kashmir:

In fact the denizens of township consider the 1993 arson as the worst chapter of their bloodied history in last twenty years of insurgency. The town has been observing complete shutdown on this particular day for 17 consecutive years. According to locals, around 350 shops and residential houses in the main chowk were set ablaze by troops, besides dozens of people being roasted alive.
“How can I forget the dreadful day, when troops went berserk and stormed aboard the passenger bus coming from Bandipora. They snatched a three-year old child from the mother seated in the bus and threw it into fire. The troops also killed the lady, besides several other passengers. I never witnessed anything like that and the incident will haunt me my entire life,” said president of Sopore Traders' Federation, Ghulam Nabi Khan.
Khan said the screams of the child engulfed by the flames still echoed in his mind, freezing his blood.
Kutub Alam, shopkeeper in the main chowk and witness to the horrifying episode, claims the troops blocked all entry and exit points of the area before setting it ablaze. “It all started early in the morning when militants ambushed the patrol party of BSF near the area police station and gunned down one trooper and snatched his weapon. As soon the news spread, the bunker located in the premises of Fire and Emergency Services near the State Bank of India resorted to indiscriminate firing. The other hundreds of bunkers present in the town followed suit and the heavy gunfire continued for two hours.
In the meantime, the troops entered the nearby Islamia College and sprinkled gun powder on the building; also on the residential houses and shops in the area and set them ablaze,” Kutub reminisced.
Mohammad Shafi lost his brother in the mayhem and claimed that the latter died while trying to save a man injured in the firing. “It was like a doomsday for me. When my brother came out of his shop and lifted the injured man in his arms for help, the troops resorted to heavy firing and killed him on spot. The fear created by the troops didn’t let me collect the body of my brother and I recovered only his half-burnt skeleton next day,” Shafi said.
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Source: A Kind Email From Dr. Sayyid Yunus Gilani