In Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir, justice continues to elude the families of gory Sopore massacre for the past 30 years whose near and dear ones lost their lives at the hands of Indian paramilitary Border Security Force personnel in Sopore town on January 6, 1993.
According to Kashmir Media Service, over 60 civilians were martyred and more than 400 shops and other structures, including residential houses, were gutted on this day in 1993 after Indian soldiers set the Sopore town ablaze. The victim families are still awaiting justice while the perpetrators of the heinous crime are roaming free.
People who witnessed the gruesome massacre told the media that marauding troops dragged a bus driver out from the vehicle and pumped bullets into the bodies of passengers killing 20 of them on the spot. “After killing the passengers, the troops started spraying gun powder, petrol and kerosene on the surrounding buildings and then torched them,” they said.
A witness said, that among the martyred civilians, 48 died due to bullet shots and rest were burnt alive. He added more than 400 commercial establishments and 75 residential houses were set ablaze in five localities of Sopore – Armpora, Muslimpeer, Krultang, Shallapora, Shahabad and Bobimir Sahab. Among the burnt buildings there were some landmark buildings like women’s degree college, he said. “We couldn’t comprehend anything when we watched BSF personnel targeting every civilian with bullets. Days after the gruesome massacre, we came to know that a BSF man was robbed of his rifle by an unknown man and to avenge that incident, they targeted innocent civilians,” said another eyewitness.
Ghulam Rasool Ganai, who witnessed the massacre and arson, said that the troops dragged out the driver of a bus (JKY-1901) from the vehicle and fired into the passengers, killing 20 of them.
“The troops then set shops and buildings on fire after sprinkling gunpowder. About 400 shops and buildings,” he said.
The Shalla family of Shalpora suffered the highest number of casualties as four of its men were killed.
Muhammad Shafi Shalla, a member of the family, said, “We had fruit business. A day before the massacre one of our fruit-laden trucks had got stuck in a drain. Four members of our family, who were retrieving the truck on the day of the massacre, had taken shelter in a shop when the BSF started firing at people. The BSF men entered the shop and killed them all.”
Tariq Ahmed Kanjawal, 50, is one of the survivors and eyewitnesses of the massacre, was 20 then, said, “The image of a burning shopkeeper emerging out of his shop and shouting hysterically has stayed with me all these years. His head was in flames. I remember a BSF officer telling his colleagues not to shoot him as he will be dead soon,” said Tariq.
Human rights organizations like Amnesty International have condemned the killings and demanded justice for the victims.
The Sopore massacre also got published in the Time magazine under the heading ‘BLOOD TIDE RISING.’ According to the magazine 55 persons were killed in the massacre.
Disclaimer: Sopore massacre victims still await justice despite passage of 30 years - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view