1994 Kupwara Massacre: 27 civilians shot dead for ‘observing shutdown on Jan 26’

The survivors allege that the massacre was carried out by the soldiers to punish the people for observing shutdown on January 26.

SHAHID RAFIQ
Kupwara, Publish Date: Jan 26 2016 11:36PM | Updated Date: Jan 27 2016 10:39AM
1994 Kupwara Massacre: 27 civilians shot dead for ‘observing shutdown on Jan 26’FAMILY OF GULAM NABI MIR, A VICTIM
It was on 27 January 1994 that 27 civilians, mostly traders of Kupwara town, fell to bullets of Army men here adding to the long list of killings of innocent civilians in such massacres carried out by forces in the Valley.
 
The survivors allege that the massacre was carried out by the soldiers to punish the people for observing shutdown on January 26.
 
SURVIVORS RECOUNT THE MASSACRE:
 
Gulam Hassan, a trader of Kupwara town: “A patrol party of Punjab regiment of Army had warned the shopkeepers on the eve of January 26 of dire consequences if they observe strike and didn’t celebrate the R-day. On 24 January 1994 some Army men and policemen entered into a verbal duel near old bridge Kupwara and soldiers threatened police of dire consequences after Jan 26 passes off peacefully. Next day on Jan 25 some Army personnel called out worshipers from Jamia Masjid Kupwara and thrashed them including Imam of the Masjid. On Jan 26 as usual people of Kupwara observed complete shutdown. Next day early in the morning we met the then district magistrate Kupwara Yaseen Shah at his residential quarter and brought the excesses and thrashing of Imam into his notice who assured us that matter will be taken up with the concerned army higher ups.”
“We returned after meeting the DC. As we were about to reach the old bridge a single firing shot was heard which was followed by a rain of bullets. All were seen running for safety, the firing lasted at least for an hour. I hid in a vegetable shop. After a lull I came out of the shop and there were horrific scenes of bloodbath all around.”
“Among the 27 people killed by Army, mostly were traders, some government employees and a policeman. As many as 38 persons were injured, some left handicapped for life.”
 
GULAM MOHI-UD-DIN MIR: 
“It was a foggy morning of Jan 27. The shopkeepers had hardly opened their shops. I was accompanying my brother Gulam Nabi Malik, working in social forestry department, who was going to attend his duties at Divisional Forest Office Zangli. As we reached near SDH Kupwara around 10:30 a.m. we heard some gun shots and within seconds there was firing from all directions. A soldier at hospital road aimed at my brother who was wearing a Khaki jacket and shot at him. Several bullets pierced his chest and he fell on ground. He started bleeding profusely. I was not allowed to lift my brother and take it to hospital which was hardly 50 yards away from the spot. Resultantly, my brother died on the spot. I along with some other people took shelter on the upper storey of a medical shop and watching all this from a small door.
As the firing stopped, vehicles carrying injured started rushing towards the hospital, I saw an Army officer stopping a vehicle and asking the names and profession of the people.
As a vehicle carrying injured was stopped on the hospital gate, a man was asked by the Army officer to get down from the vehicle. He was shot dead on spot. Later he was identified as Khazr Muhammad of Cheerkote (Lolab) who had argued with the officer that he was an employee in DC office Kupwara and he was taking his injured relative to hospital.
I still remember the Army officer firing at Khazr Muhammad from a point blank range. I also took my brother to the hospital where doctors said that he was brought dead. There I saw 18 bodies including bodies of two policemen who were in uniform. Later 9 more injured succumbed to their injuries.”
 
ABDUL GANI:
“After the gruesome massacre, the Army men asked us to assemble in a ground and undergo an identification parade.
A boy of Awoora Kupwara died in front of his father, who begged the troops to allow him to take his son to hospital. But they didn’t pay heed to the pleas of his elderly father and left the boy to die.”
 
MUHAMAMD MAQBOOL PIR (Employee of Fire and Emergency Service): 
“I was posted at Sopore and was waiting for bus in Kupwara bus stand. Army convoy was passing from by-pass, suddenly some gun shots were heard and indiscriminate firing from forces from all sides started. I ran to take shelter near a bus, but a bullet hit me. I took refuge in a house at Dar Mohalla, the house belonged to Sanaullah Malik. I was provided first aid by the inmates. Around 4 pm there was a crack down and I along with other people were taken for an identification parade. When troops saw me bleeding I was immediately arrested, blindfolded and hand cuffed and taken to Zangli Army garrison. I pleaded before them that I was an employee in fire service department and not a militant. But they didn’t listen to me and I was tortured.
 
The then DC Kupwara Yaseen Shah reached Zangli and asked Army to free me, but I wasn’t.
Next day I was again bundled in Army jeep and taken to Drugmulla interrogation centre, from there I was taken to Badamibagh Army cantonment and kept in an interrogation centre for 19 days.”
 
PETITION:
After the incident, police registered a case FIR No: 19/94 under Sections 302, 307 dated 27-01-1994 in police station Kupwara.
“We ask the government why it failed to deliver justice to victim families who lost their kin to the Army carnage,” said Muhammad Ahsan Untoo who has filed a petition in the state human rights commission on behalf of the families of the victims.
 

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