Kashmir will Tuesday remember the victims of Kupwara Massacre. It was on January 27, 1994, that 27 civilians, mostly traders of this north Kashmir town, fell to the bullets of Army personnel, adding to the long list of such massacres in Kashmir.
The survivors allege that the massacre was carried out by soldiers to punish the local people for observing shutdown on January 26.
“A patrol party of Punjab Regiment of Army had warned the shopkeepers on January 25 of dire consequences if they observe strike and didn’t celebrate the Republic Day the next day,” said a local shopkeeper who survived the massacre.
Recalling the events, the shopkeeper said, “On 24 January, 1994, Army and Police personnel entered into verbal duel near hospital and on January 25 some Army personnel called out worshipers from Jamia Masjid Kupwara and thrashed them, including the Imam of the Masjid.”
“On January 26, people of Kupwara observed complete shutdown as usual. Next day early in the morning we met the then district magistrate Kupwara at his residence and brought the excesses and thrashing of Imam into his notice who assured us that the matter will be taken up with the concerned Army higher ups,” the trader said.
“Later we started to walk towards the town from the magistrate’s residential quarters. As we were about to reach the old bridge, Army personnel opened indiscriminate firing on us and the firing continued for several minutes. All were seen running for safety and I took refuge in a vegetable shop. After the firing stopped, I came out and there were horrific scenes of blood bath around,” the shopkeeper said, wishing not to be named.
“Among the 27 people killed by Army, most were traders, some government employees and a policeman; 38 persons were injured, some among them handicapped for life.”
He said none was allowed to lift the bodies and carry the injured to hospital.
“A boy was killed in front of his father, who begged the soldiers to allow him to take his son to hospital. But they didn’t pay heed to his pleas,” the shopkeeper revealed.
After the massacre, police registered a case FIR No. 19/94 under Sections 302, 307 dated 27-01-1994 in police station Kupwara. But the accused soldiers continue to roam freely even after 21 years after the massacre.
“The memories of the massacre are still fresh in our minds. We want to ask the government why has it failed to give justice to the innocent victims,” the trader said.