Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Jan 6, ’93, BSF massacred 55 civilians, burnt 300 houses in Sopur

Courtesy Daily Greater Kashmir dated Jan., 6th, 2010 by UMER MAQBOOL DAR
Sopur, Jan 5: 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.”

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