July has always been a `bloody' month in Jammu Kashmir. Since July 13, 1931 blood continues to soak this `sacred' land. This July has been no different. So far around fifty people have fallen to bullets and pellets.
Historians agree that the July 13 massacre outside the Srinagar Central Jail changed the course of Kashmir history. However, it could not change the destiny of this fateful nation, they believe. And, July continues to test the valour of the Kashmir.
Twenty-six years ago, the state government then headed by Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah ordered a probe into excesses committed by army men. The findings of the probe have not been made public to this day.
Eyewitnesses said a group of army men in civvies armed with hockey sticks and iron rods appeared in Lal Chowk on July 26, 1980 and created mayhem. They said the group damaged Taxis, private cars and government property. Civilians were thrashed. The group also resorted to loot and arson, they added. It is believed that an army driver had hit a Rickshaw at Sonawar around two kilometers from the city centre. The driver was taken into custody. "A group of army men came out of the barracks and went berserk to free the driver from police lockup.
A senior police officer also received a sound thrashing and lost some of his teeth. The mayhem lasted several hours," the witnesses said. According to them, the army men broke into several groups beating people, looting shops and damaging vehicles from Sonawar to Batmaloo. "The mayhem evoked severe reaction from the local population. Stone pelting continued till late hours and the next day. The police resorted to firing killing six people including a Pakistani national," they said.
The demonstrations, witnesses said, continued for several days. An army Jeep was torched near Budshah Bridge. However, the driver managed escape after firing several rounds from his gun. All activity in the city came to a halt. All educational institutions were closed down indefinitely.
Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah was the Chief Minister then and lived at his Moulana Azad Residence barely one hundred meters away from the city centre where the army men wreaked havoc. Somebody informed the protesters that Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah had gone to Badami Bagh Cantonment where the army officers urged him to recognize the culprits. It was further stated that he (Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah) could not recognize the persons responsible for the mayhem. While this could not be confirmed immediately, it added fuel to the anger. The demonstrations intensified.
The probe was never completed and the incident stands forgotten. On July 2, 1992 a tyre burst at Hari Singh High Street evoked a violent reaction from the CRPF troops stationed there. They opened fire killing six civilians. Four days later on July 6, the BSF men subjected Ishbar locality in the outskirts of Srinagar to indiscriminate firing and killed 7 civilians.
Once again blood was shed on July 13, 1992 at Nasrullapora, Budgam. The army opened fire killing ten persons on the spot. On the first day of July in 1993, the troops fired at unarmed civilians at Baba Reshi in Baramulla district killing 9 persons/pilgrims on the spot. And, on July 30 same year, 12 civilians were killed and around a hundred injured when troops opened fire in Hangubutch, Pulwama district. A magisterial probe was announced but never completed.
Five years later in 1998, sixteen civilians were killed in two Doda villages on July 28. In 2001, 13 civilians were gunned down in Sheshnag in Anantnag district. On July 22, 2001, twelve innocent civilians of a particular community were massacred in Cheerji and Tagood in Doda district of Jammu by gunmen. And yet again, July 13 (2002) proved disastrous for Qasimpora residents in Jammu region. Twenty-eight civilians fell to bullets.
Curiously, in most of the cases where armed forces were involved, the government responded by saying that the persons got killed during cross fire between the security forces and the militants.
The parents of the deceased seeking ex-gratia were made to solicit affidavits stating that their wards got killed during cross fire. This way, the government bailed out the trigger happy armed forces.
In 2010 Kashmir erupted yet again. Around 130 people got killed. However, July remained comparatively calm. Only two persons identified as Muzaffar Ahmad Bhat, 17, of Gung Bugh, Srinagar and Fancy Jan, a 24-year-old woman from Danderkhah (Sidiqabad) Batmaloo got killed on July 5 and 6 respectively.
Last year (2016), the Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Burhan Muzaffar Wani got killed in South Kashmir. People came out to register protest. They wanted to reach Burhan's home town, they were intercepted and fired upon. Scores fell to bullets and what followed in the coming days reflects the ruthlessness of a dispensation that believed in healing touch and battle of ideas.