Victim families await justice 25 years after Sopore massacre

Srinagar, January 06, 2018 (PPI-OT):In occupied Kashmir, justice continues to elude the victim families of gory Sopore massacre for the past 25 years whose near and dear ones lose their lives at the hands of Indian paramilitary Border Security Force personnel in Sopore town on January 6, 1993.

On the fateful day the BSF personnel had gone on a rampage after an unknown person allegedly snatched a riffle from a soldier. Over 60 civilians were martyred and more than 350 structures including residential houses and shops were gutted after Indian soldiers set the town ablaze. People who are witness to that gruesome massacre still shiver while narrating the ordeal.

Ghulam Rasool Ganai, who witnessed the massacre and arson, said that the marauding 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 gun powder. About 400 shops and buildings including 75 residential houses were gutted in Shalpora, Shahabad, Muslimpeer, Kraltang and Arampora areas of the town,” he said. Among the gutted buildings were Women’s Degree College and Samad Talkies. The family which suffered the highest number of casualties was the Shalla family of Shalpora. 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, 45, a survivor and eyewitness of the massacre, was 20 then. “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 had 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.

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