Jan 6, 2014

The Sopore Massacre

Jan 6 is over and with that the first week of a new year is about to culminate. This is the time when most of us are planning to draft our new-year resolution while others might have already started to practise. 
Whenever a fresh year is born, people all over the world plan for a better upcoming future while recollecting the beauty of the yesteryear. Unfortunately, there is a poor section of this society who always miss the bus of jubilations. For them a new year is nothing but a reminder of their ill fate. Every new calendar on their walls reminds them of their terrifying doom, rubbing salt on their wounds. This poor section of the society is where I live. The name is Kashmir, the most beautiful prison on planet, where a new year has an ugly string attached.

Most of the deadliest massacres have taken place in the first two months of some bloody years, consuming the lives and dignity of hundreds of innocent Kashmiri people. Starting from the #SoporeMassacre(6th Jan) to #GowKadalMassacre(20th Jan) and to the #kunanposhpura mass rape(Feb 23), Kashmir has always been raped and bruised.

Today let us remember the #SoporeMassacre. 55 innocent Kashmiri civilians were killed and as many as 450 buildings were burnt by the Indian Border Security Forces (BSF), in revenge, after militants ambushed a BSF patrol, in the town of Sopore in Kashmir on 6 January 1993. 

It is widely alleged that after the killing of the BSF guy, the Indian troops, out of frustration and anger, fired indiscriminately at local residents and set ablaze their homes and shops. According to the testimony of the eye witnesses and major media(local and international minus the apex Indian Media that cooked its own part of the news), a public coach was also attacked by the troopers that killed the driver and at least 15 passengers. Even more gruesomely, some residents are believed to have been were burnt alive by the Indian troops. The Independent (UK) reports the tribulation as follows:

"The Border Security Forces sprayed a public coach with machine-gun fire, killing the driver and more than 15 passengers, said witnesses. Three other cars were also fired on, and then the paramilitary forces set the vehicles ablaze. Next, they began herding the native Kashmiris into shops and houses, said witnesses. Then the security forces shot them, splashed paraffin over the bodies and set the buildings alight."

The Sopore massacre forced into the open an issue that the Indian government tried to sweep under the carpet. But due to the widespread publicity of the incident, they couldn't just sweep it under the rug. Initially they claimed that the high civilian casualties were only the collateral damage on account of an intense gun battle between the BSF soldiers and militants. However, the government was later prompted to initiate a judicial inquiry into the matter that suspended several BSF officers.

Funnily enough, two cases stand registered in the matter with Police Station Sopore which were referred for investigation to CBI Delhi, but as of 2013 the fate of the cases is unknown to public. The files might have simply been closed and fed to the office dust. And today sadly those martyrs go unsung.

Following the massacre there was an immense protest from the local people. Thousands of Kashmiris defying a government-imposed curfew, protested against the actions of the BSF soldiers on the streets . The then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao, ordered state governor  Girish Saxena to visit Sopore and announced a compensation of £2,275 for the relatives of the deceased. However, this political cream called as compensation could not heal the wounds that were too deep. And now, on every new year, the wounds just get more afresh and deep.