When 57 civilians fell to BSF bullets
’93 SOPORE MASSACRE
Sopore, Jan 5: Massacre of 57 civilians in Sopore town 18 years back is one of the few incidents that got few columns of space in prestigious TIME magazine.
The magazine had titled the news report (on January 18, 1993) “Blood tide rising: Indian forces carry out one of the worst massacres in Kashmir’s history.” The publication described the massacre, and the protests that ensued thus: “Perhaps there is a special corner in hell reserved for troopers 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 to protest a massacre that left 55 people dead and scores injured.”
In the reconstructed Iqbal Market it is hard to find the traces of the carnage the BSF men carried out on January 6, 1993, killing 57 persons, most of them roasted alive in shops, buses, and houses. Personnel set about 100 houses and 300 shops on fire after dousing them with gunpowder, the local residents recall.
It was the chilly morning of January 6, 1993 when militants attacked the BSF men at Baba Younis Lane near the Sopore town’s main street, killing two of them. The militants also took away the rifles of the slain BSF men. The personnel after the shootout went berserk and opened indiscriminate fire on unarmed civilians and set on fire markets, mainly Iqbal Market, and Women’s Degree College.
The local residents regard the incident as one of the worst massacres in the history of Kashmir.
“I cannot forget that horrendous incident till I am alive; the troops were on rampage; I lost two relatives in the incident,” said an eyewitness and survivor of the carnage. “I wonder can doomsday be worse,” said a resident.
The mayhem continued for more than 2 hours with people—helpless and hopeless—watching the devastation from a distance. None from the civil administration or Fire Service Department came to the rescue of the hapless people. Only the valor and heroism of the local populace made its appearance, helping each other. In one hour, the locals recovered the dead bodies of more than 50 civilians and miraculously rescued many more.
Some 15 civilians who tired to rescue their brethren were also shot dead by the BSF personnel, said Abdul Majid, a survivor. Ghulam Nabi Bhat of New Light Hotel shouldered 11 dead bodies and before he could carry the 12th, he too was shot dead.
For three days people rummaged the debris for dead bodies. Strong protests rocked the town for many days continuously. Many charities came up but soon vanished. The insurance companies refused to give any compensation to the victims. The victims knocked the doors of government offices but to no avail.
“The massacre would haunt us as long as we are alive,” said Muhammad Abbas of Sopore.
Lastupdate on : Wed, 5 Jan 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 5 Jan 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 6 Jan 2011 00:00:00 IST
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