Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Flashback Bijbehara: October 22, 1993

When 40 persons fell to the bullets of ruthless forces at Bijbehara
Courtesy: Daily Rising Kashmir dt October 22nd, 2009 by Zahir-ud-DinSrinagar, Oct 21: On October 22, 1993, the Indian border guards (BSF men) deployed in Bijbehara on Srinagar-Jammu highway fired on peaceful and unarmed protestors, who had taken to roads to protest against the siege of Hazratbal shrine. At least 40 persons were killed in the BSF firing. It was Friday and after finishing the congregational prayers around 15000 people assembled in the courtyard of Jamia Masjid, Bijbehara to register their protest against the siege of Hazratbal shrine by army. A procession was taken out, which marched through various streets. As the processionsts, who were demanding end to siege reached the Goriwan locality, they were intercepted by BSF men, who blocked the roads. Without any provocation, the BSF men fired indiscriminately on the unarmed protestors, killing at least 37 persons on spot and injuring more than 200 others. The firing continued for nearly 10 minutes and troops targeted the crowd and those, who lay injured on the ground.No ambulances or medical staff was allowed access to the injured persons although hospital was only few yards away from the site of the massacre. According to doctors posted in the hospital, most of the people could have been saved had the ambulances and medical aid been allowed to reach the victims. Later, when people managed to shift some of the injured to hospital, the BSF men even fired on them inside the hospital complex, killing and injuring more people.Police later registered an FIR No 90/93 under section 302 and 307 RPC. However, no arrest was effected.The official version claimed that the Bijbehara killings were consequence of militant firing on a road-opening party of troops. This theory of militant attack was readily accepted by two premier Indian news agencies, which falsely carried news stories that many of the dead were militants and involved in various killings and attacks on the paramilitary forces. These false news reports were carried and given prominent space by all the Indian newspapers and other media outlets.Soon after the news of the massacre went out, Indian government barred independent local and international media persons from entering the town. On October 23, 1993 when large number of local and foreign media persons converged on the town, the army used violence and shot in air to stop them from visiting the old side of the town and the newly dug ‘martyrs graveyard’. The army men even attacked mourners, who were burying the dead in the graveyard.
The Inquiry report, vide number EN/BFC/93/23-24, prepared by the Inquiry Magistrate and submitted to the government on 13th November, concluded that firing on the procession was absolutely unprovoked and the claim made by the security forces that they fired in self defence after militant firing is baseless and concocted.
The inquiry report further stated that the security personnel have committed offence out of vengeance and their barbarous act was deliberate and well planned. The report indicted Deputy Commandant of BSF JK Radola for tacit approval given by him to indiscriminate and un-provoked firing.After sixteen years, the victims are still awaiting justice.

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