It was on 27 January 1994 when the troopers of 31 Medium Regiment allegedly gunned down 27 civilians including three policemen in North Kashmir’s Kupwara district for observing shutdown on the eve of Republic Day.
Justice continues to elude the families of victims even after 23 years.
The First Information Report vide number 19/1994 under section 302, 307 lodged in Police Station Kupwara reads that, “In a criminal assault, the soldiers of 31 Medium Regiment who were on road opening party duty led by field officer S. Bakshi gunned down scores of people in indiscriminate firing in Kupwara market and its vicinity without any provocation.”
The victims who fell prey to the bullets were mostly traders. Three among them were policemen and one was a government employee. The survivors allege that the massacre was carried out by the soldiers to punish the people for observing shutdown on January 26.
“A day before India’s Republic Day, Indian Army had warned the shopkeepers of dire consequences if they observe strike and didn’t celebrate the R-day, next day,” said a local shopkeeper who survived the massacre said adding that ignoring the warning people especially traders observed a complete shutdown in the district on January 26.
“As the shopkeepers opened their shops on January 27, the soldiers came and opened indiscriminate fire from all directions, killing 27 people and leaving scores wounded,” he said and added that after the gruesome massacre, the soldiers asked us to assemble in the ground and undergo an identification parade. He said none was allowed to lift the bodies and carry the injured to hospital.
“A boy died in front of his father, who begged before armed troopers to allow him to take his son to the hospital. But they didn’t give heed to his pleas,” the shopkeeper who survived during the blood bath said.
Locals alleged that killers were shielded and they are still roaming free. “We demand that case should be reopened and killers be punished. We are waiting for the day when killers would be punished,” they added. (CNS)