Jannuary 6th is one of the blackest day in the human rights history of the world. It was on this day in 1993 that Indian soldiers killed nearly fifty five people in Kashmir’s Apple town, Sopore in a manner which even today sends jitters up one’s spine & puts to shame the wildest beast in a jungle.
It was On the morning of 6 January 1993 that a group of JKLF militants attacked a platoon of Border Security Force soldiers at Baba Yousuf Lane near Sopore killing one of them. In retaliation, the Indian forces fired at any one &every one coming in their sight & set fire to residential homes and business premises. The soldiers also indiscriminately fired at a public coach killing the driver and 15 passengers, including women & lap children, on spot. They also attacked three private cars and subsequently put them on fire.
The most heinous part of the crime was to herd local residents into nearby commercial establishments. The people, thinking that they were to undergo a cordon & search operation (Crackdown), which was a common feature those days, obeyed the instructions. These establishments, some of them containing inflammable material like cloth, paper etc, were set ablaze after sprinkling some combustible material(Paraffin or Gun powder) on them. People inside in these live infernos were made to perish, among sky shaking screams & shrieks . Any one who tried to escape was fired at & killed. Fire brigades & ambulances were not allowed to go nearby & render any sort of assistance.
official Indian Government reports admitted that 250 shops and 50 homes were burnt down although local sources claim that as many as 450 structures were burnt down. Soon after the incident, a commission of inquiry under Justice Amarjeet Choudary of the Punjab and Haryana High court was set up, but it was soon called off after the judge refused to take up the assignment for reasons best known to him. Probably “National interest” was playing heavily on his mind. It was also rumored that one of his closest relative was involved in the heinous massacre. The documents furnished by the government, in response to an RTI query later had revealed that government did not extend the time of inquiry commission. Rather, it had termed its existence “unnecessary” on the grounds that “purpose for which the commission was set up has not been achieved.”Later, no effort was made to inquire the incident.
While an FIR stands lodged against the forces, the police, on the directions of higher authorities has transferred the case to CBI which has not taken any action so far in the matter. The case is now being heard afresh by the State Human Rights Commission on a Public Interest Litigation which has instructed the CBI to file a status report.
It is this worst massacre that TIME Magazine reported:
“PERHAPS THERE IS A SPECIAL CORNER IN HELL reserved for soldiers 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 last Thursday to protest a massacre that left 55 people dead and scores injured.”
(The author is a practicing chartered Accountant. Feed back at firstname.lastname@example.org