After 19 years, Sopore massacre haunts people

Srinagar: On the 19th anniversary of Sopore Massacre in which over 55 people were killed by the ‘Border Security Forces’ as one of the worst massacre in the history of Kashmir is still knocking at the minds of the people.

Sopore, the apple town of Kashmir has witnessed the worst turmoil during the last two decades of armed conflict would likely to observe a complete shutdown on 6th January to commemorate the massacre and to pay tribute who lost their lives in the sorrowful tragedy.

Sopore has remained a hot spot for guerrilla’s activity, while observers believed that it was owing to the creation of that massacre.

Eye witness told the Agence India Press that "On the morning of January 6, 1993, when a group of unidentified gunmen attacked a BSF (Border Security Force)patrolling party at Baba Yufuf lane Sopore and killed a BSF trooper. The gunmen also took away the rifles of the slain trooper."

They said, after the incident, security forces went on ‘rampage and proceeded to indiscriminately firing at local residents and set fire to homes and business establishments.’

Witnesses claimed that the BSF Men attacked a passenger bus killed ‘a driver and at least 15 passengers were also shot dead as well as attacking and burnt over a dozen other cars.’

Recalling the day with the Agence India Press, one of the eye witnesses of the massacre on the conditions of anonymity claimed that, "around 30 unarmed civilians fell to the bullets of security forces. It was the retaliation by the BSF for the killing of their one soldier by the gunmen, who fled away from the scene. They (security forces) went rampage and setting ablaze whole Iqbal market and Women Degree College and fired at bystanders."

"The security forces set on fire more than 400 homes and 200 shops which reduced into ashes. While more than 20 people were burnt alive as security forces set fire to our homes and shops," residents recall.

"I cannot forget that horror-ful 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, but wished not to mention his name.

The eyewitness of the massacre told the Agence India Press that the mayhem continued for more than four hours with people helpless and hopeless, watched the devastation from a distance.

They claimed that none from the civil administration or Fire Service Department came to the rescue of the hapless people. "Only the valour and heroism of the local populace made its appearance, helping each other."

Other eye witness said that, "In one hour, the locals recovered the dead bodies of more than 50 civilians and miraculously rescued many more."

"Some 10 civilians who tried to rescue their brethren were also shot dead by the troopers. I shouldered five dead bodies and before I could 6th one, i too was shot which luckily hit my leg," said Sadiq Ahmad, (name changed) adding he said, “The massacre would haunt me as long as I am alive,”

Strong protests had rocked the Valley for many days continuously. Residents claimed that, no efforts were being made to heal the wounds of Sopore people.

The massacre also left dozens orphan and widows who were still waiting for justice.

Locals also claim that the victims knocked the doors of government offices, but to no avail.

Chairman Hurriyat Conference (G) Syed Ali Shah Geelani had called for Sopore Bandh on 6th January to commemorate the worst ever massacre in the Valley. (AIP News)