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Nadimarg Massacre

Terrorists target Kashmiri Pandits once again

KS Correspondent

JAMMU, Apr 8: On March 23 Nadimarg entered as yet another chapter in the history of genocide of Kashmiri Pandits. In a brutal display of savagery, the merchants of terror, waging Jehadic war moved down 24 Kashmiri Hindus, including 11 women and two children. Nadimarg, a village 7 kms from Bijbehara, the home town of the State Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, showed to the whole world how hollow were the claims of the State Government that situation was ripe for the journey back home. Government's so called return plan has only paved the way for yet another exodus by those who had braved the selective killings and massacres, of their co-religionists during the past thirteen years.

Nadimarg, a picturesque village is located 1½ kms away from Zainapore, the historic town founded by the benevolent king, Zain-ul-Abdin, in the fifteenth century. The Pandits had named the king as 'Bata Shah', (protector of Pandits) because of the protection he provided to them, after he called them back from exile and hiding. Today the town stands witness to intolerance. A small stream demarcates the Pandit locality from the Muslim mohalla. In 1990, the village had 51 families . Presently there were only eleven families with 52 members. These families belonged to the downtrodden section of the Pandit community. Their survival depended on either class IV jobs or meagre land they possessed. Some of these families would supplement their meagre income by doing side jobs. At the time of the massacre, sixteen members of this community had been out to some neighbouring village tolerance.

In the chapter of intolerance, being scripted by the religious warriors, nearly fifteen hundred members of the minority, community have been killed in 80 massacres in J&K. For Kashmiri Pandits, Nadimarg massacre is fifth one, since the 'popular' govt took reins of power in 1996. Terrorists have attacked Pandits through massacre in these districts--Budgam (March 20, Sangrampora), Srinagar 25/26 Jan., Wandhama), Anantnag (Jan 20-Telwani, Aug. 2002 Sirigufwara). The main motive behind these massacres is to terrorise the minorities and force them to migrate. For the last three years the incidents involving attacks on minorities and their religious places have been occurring with regular frequency. Incidentally, the Kashmiri Pandit exodus started in 1990, when the present Chief Minister was Union Home Minister.

March 23:

Equewitnesses, who survived the carnage said a group of 4-7, heavily armed terrorists, dressed in army uniform, descended on Nadimarg hamlet at around 10.30 PM, when the victims were going to sleep. They first went to the police picket, set up to safeguard Pandit population of the village. Presently, nine policemen had been posted here, while twenty constables had been withdrawn before the assembly elections. These nine cops were supposed to look after the protection of 55 families in a radius of 15-20 km.

At the time of the attack only five cops were present. These poorly motivated policemen meekly surrendered their weapons, four SLRs, three 303 Rifles, one carbine and the lone wireless set to the terrorists and escaped from the scene. Knowing the identity of police cops, the terrorists did not touch police. The cops even did not go to report the massacre to the nearby Zainpora police station.

The terrorists, after looting arms and ammunition of the policemen, went to knock at the doors of Kashmiri Pandit houses. They commanded them to assemble in the compound near the picket under a Chinar tree. Those who did not comply with orders had their doors broken open. Terrorists, in fact, beat some people, who were reluctant to come out.

Phoola, who lost her husband and daughter told reporters, "The terrorists were calling the people by name. After identifying them they took them to the compound. They told us they were armymen, and had to search the houses. They asked everybody to come out". While driving the residents out, the terrorists looted cash and snatched away gold and ornaments from women. This had not been the style of terrorists in previous massacres.

When the terrorists knocked at Phoola's house, she and her daughter pushed Chand Ji, her son into a chimney, before opening the door Phoola herself slipped away from the line and hid in the bushes, just metres from the massacre site.

Soom Nath, a government servant had retired recently. He had brought his gratuity money and other pensionary benefits to home and kept these in the cupboard. He said terrorists were carrying torches and introduced themselves as troops. They asked all the family members to vacate their homes and assemble near the Chinar tree in the main compound, he added. Soom Nath was slapped twice and asked to show other family members. His wife was taken outside and was asked to join other Pandits under the Chinar tree. Soom Nath's son smelt a rat and hid himself under the cot. He and his wife gave slip to the terrorists and hid themselves behind the haystack. Though Chuni Lal's family was lucky to escape, the terrorists looted away his cash of Rs 1.7 lakhs and other costly items before fleeing from the scene.

After collecting the Pandits under the Chinar tree, the terrorists began looting Pandit houses. The looted goods were put in a matador. The Pandits thought, possibly the intention of the terrorists was to loot them and their lives would be spared. But soon after the matador was despatched, the terrorists opened fire in discriminately upon the hapless Pandits, killing 24 people. Chuni Lal, who had been hit in the thigh fell down and found himself in a pile of dead bodies. As guns fell silent, the gunmen came to check for any living. In a pool of blood, Chuni Lal held his breath and feigned death.

The killers had left and reached near the school, a few dozen metres away, when they heard the cries of a child. Mohan Lal Bhat recalled, "I heard one of them shout to others that there is some work still to be done. Then I heard a gun shot. Later I got to know it was Monu". Bullets had made sieve of his chest. Devki (75), w/o Jiya Lal was dragged upto carnage site and her pleas of mercy were turned down. Gunwati, a 90-year old paralytic lady asked the killers to kill her too. A terrorist told her in Kashmiri that there was no need to kill a dead person. A 23 year old handicapped girl, who could not walk because of her disability was dragged out, and shot dead.

Most of the victims were found with bullet holes in the face. Survivors said many of the people were killed in cold blood from point blank range. Almost all the bodies were found with gun shot wounds in their heads.

Ramesh Koul, who lost his father, took great risk to reach Zainapora police station at 1.00 AM. The police cops told him they can go to Nadimarg only after they receive orders from above. Zainpora police party reached Nadimarg at 4 AM, while senior officials and security forces' commanders reached the carnage site only in the morning. Even the chief minister was informed by DGP only at 6.30 AM.

In the carnage, the whole family of Bansi Lal (59), his wife Bindri (55), daughter Girja (35), daughter Princy (20) and son Rakesh was wiped out. Suraj had gone to sleep after celebrating his third birthday. His grandfather Dwarka Nath had come on the occasion with presents from Fatehpur village. Dwarka Nath lost his both daughters and two grandsons. Only a three month infant who had been sleeping escaped the eyes of the killers. There were 12 survivors, who managed to hide in darkness.

A day after the massacre, it was a horrifying scene in the village. Blood and body parts were littered everywhere. At the carnage site, shoes, blankets and lantern were scattered. A correspondent of a leading English daily wrote, "once a prosperous village, Nadimarg today presented a look of war ravaged hamlet. The difference was that instead of helmets of soldiers, the boots and the caps of the innocent civilians were scattered everywhere. The killers had dumped the bodies on the spot as if they wanted vultures to eat them. It was a scene that could even send a cold-hearted person to a virtual shock. A large row of bodies, wrapped in a shroud, with blood making its way out of the thin white coffin".

The cremation was delayed by the administration for the arrival of the chief minister. But no politician or official of the administration stayed back for cremation. As the bodies were being lined up for funeral, on old Pandit who could not walk, wept bitterly at the verandah of his house and said, "I have not lost just my family. I feel my roots have ditched me. I will never belong to Kashmir again".

Advani's Visit:

Nearly two hundred Pandits from Nadimarg and other neighbouring villages assembled to give hostile reception to the Deputy Prime Minister, LK Advani. They were inconsolable and accused Mufti government for not providing security despite requests made to government. The people shouted slogans against Mr Advani and Mr Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and attacked 'healing touch policy'. The chief minister had to face serious embarrassment, when Pandits named officials who were responsible for security lapse. The protestors shouted, "we want migration...J&K Police Hai Hai. Healing Touch Hai Hai". DGP and senior police officials were hooted down. A lone survivor of a family, wiped out in the carnage, Mohan Lal alias Vicky, was so emotional that he shoulted at Mr Advani and Mufti Sayeed that he too must "be shot dead". He asked them, "what for I have to live now, kill me, please, kill me". Chandji, who survived miraculously asked Mr Advani what they had given to the Pandit community except for "death and destruction".

In a remorseful mood, Advani consoled the relatives of the victims, saying, "I must admit we have not done justice to you". They asked him if government could not protect eight thousand Pandits left in the Valley, how could it talk of return of more than two lakh displaced members of the community. When the Pandits demanded dismissal of Mufti government, he told them the NDA government would use Article 356 only in extreme cases.

Security Lapse :

Why did Nadimarg massacre took place? Where were the lapses? Mr MM Khajuria a former DPG of the state said, "The terrorists normally leave the Pandits staying back in the Valley alone. In fact, they are considered a 'war asset' by their foreign masters. Pawns in the hands of the merchants of terror, these Pandits were handy for strategic butchering as and when required. Such massacres have broadly followed a set pattern".

The former DPG also points his finger at the state government for its casual approach. He observed, "...the plan for securing return of Pandit migrants to Kashmir failed to address the basic and crucial requirement of a sturdy and fool proof security cover for those already there...The omission to conduct a comprehensive and realistic appraisal of the ground reality while planning the 'Go Home Project' for the migrants and put in place necessary security cover has not only made the Nadimarg tragedy possible but also exposed the mighty Indian state to ridicule...In view of the overall security environment, the threat perception, the known modus-operandi of the enemy, and their established capability to mount such operations something much more than establishment of symbolic police pickets needed to be done".

Survivors of the carnage put the whole blame on the administration. The women folk had observed suspicious movement a week prior to the attack. A few days before, a milkman had told Pandits to be careful. Chuni Lal said, "we had some fears about our safety for the past two days. We went to meet DC Anantnag on 22nd and had asked for additional security. The DC ignored our plea...they came only after our fears came to true". The Pandits had also met DC Pulwama, Ms Naseema Lankar but to no help. They approached two local MLAs of CPM and also alerted their brethren in Jammu. A delegation of Panun Kashmir had met the State Governor and Mr ID Swami. On 21st, two days before the massacre, Panun Kashmir held a press conference and tried to impress upon the state government that its decision was ill-conceived and could create problems for Pandits. On the day of the massacre, a Pandit of a neighbouring village had to visit Nadimarg for distributing marriage cards. He was advised by his Muslim friend not to stay in the village that night and return home. How could all these inputs be not in the knowledge of the police intelligence. Even the SHO Zainapora had described Nadimarg as hypersensitive. A fortnight back there was a attack on Telephone Exchange at Zainapora.

The survivors have also alleged that the terrorists were in connivance with some cops, deployed at the police picket. They added that the terrorists picked up and chose men and women from the inhabited houses only and did not enter the inhabited ones. According to these Pandits a few of the militants were Kashmiris. A delegation of Kashmiri Pandit Sabha which visited Nadimarg did not rule out the involvement of some locals from the neighbouring village, Yaripora. The particular village has remained a stronghold of Jamaat Islami. A few Pandit families, which migrated from other villages said new vested interests have emerged in Valley and they have been trying to throw them out of the Valley.

Justice (retd.) Ghulam Ahmed Kuchay, in his capacity as head of State Human Rights Commission, had probed Wandhama massacre. He had stated in his six page report that Wandhama massacre may be taken as a warning note and proper measures needed to be initiated to prevent such incidents. He told the media, "I had given a detailed account of things and recommended measures. But none of these were implemented".

The Pandit community and the NC President, Omar Abdullah have also accused the chief minister of bungling the return issue. They have charged that he had been building media-hype on the issue, without taking ground reality into account. In a veiled criticism of state government's plan, Deputy Prime Minister had told Rajya Sabha on March 12, "The yardstick for their return will be safety. The Kashmiri migrants are still not convinced about their safety in the Valley. Nobody will be pushed anywhere. ” Referring to the state government's plan, he added that unless they (migrants) are convinced the plan will not succeed. Taking part in the discussion, Dr Farooq Abdullah warned that Pandits would not be safe in the Valley. He added, "I do not think conditions are conducive enough for these people to go back. The government's plans to set up two colonies would not solve the problem. The government had to provide security to them. The former chief minister warned, "they will became a target of the Al-Qaida and other movements. The fallout of any attack would be felt in other places of the country".

In the wake of Nadimarg massacre, nearly two hundred members of 32 families of Pandit community have migrated from such places like Kangan, Magam, Karan Nagar, Sathu, Kulgam, Sirhama etc. The government fears if Nadimarg survivors are allowed to go, Pandits in other villages will follow suit.

'The massacre dented its (State Government's) image and the migration would deepen the dent'. The district administration, whose negligence led to massacre, had brought Nadimarg survivors back from Barsoo, when they were on way to Jammu. Presently survivors are living as 'captives' in Nadimarg. This has further eroded the image and credibility of PDP-led government. Nadimarg  Pandits told mediamen, "we have been held hostages in the village as no member of the community from rest of the Valley is allowed to see us nor are we allowed to go out". Meanwhile Pandits in other parts of the Valley are feeling apprehensive about their safety and have demand a CBI or judicial probe in all aspects of massacre. They have also demanded strong action against guilty officials. The state government too is in a fix how to provide fool-proof security to 271 hamlets of Kashmir Pandits.

Return of Pandits is a national issue. Its use for partisan ends can only be detrimental to their ultimate return.

Victims of Nadimarg massacre, 23-3-03

1. Bansi Lal (70), S/o Daya Ram

2.  Rajni (22) D/o Bansi Lal

3.Lok Nath (40) S/o Kanth Ram

4. Radhakrishan (60) S/o Kanth Ram

5. Pradhiman Krishan (25) S/o Radhakrishan

6. Geeta (40) W/o Radha Krishan

7. Ramesh Pandit

8. Lassa Koul (70) S/o Govind Ram

9. Triloki Nath (55) F/o Manohar Nath Pandit

10. Sangeeta (30) W/o Manohar Nath Pandit

11. Suraj Kumar (3) S/o Manohar Nath Pandit

12. Suman (Julie) (30), W/o Satish Kumar Pandit

13. Monu Raj (2) S/o Satish Kumar

14. Chand Rani (40) W/o Chuni Lal

15. Jiya Lal Bhat (80)

16. Devki (75) W/o Jiya Lal Bhat

17. Sushma (26) D/o Jiya Lal

18. Avtar Krishan (55) S/o Jiya Lal

19. Girja Kumari (23) D/o Bansi Lal

20. Princy (27) D/o Bansi Lal

21. Rakesh Kumar (22) S/o Jiya Lal

22. Bansi Lal (50) S/o Jiya Lal

23. Umat Kumar (20) S/o Avtar Krishan

24. Ashajee (Bindri) 40) W/o Bansi Lal

Injured: Chuni Lal

Survivors of Carnage:

1. Mohan Lal Bhat

2. Ramesh Koul

3.Chuni Lal and his son (4) Deep

5. Phoola Devi

6. Gunwati

7. Som Nath (8) his wife and (9) his son

10. 3 month old child of Satish Kumar

11. Sanjay Koul

12. Manohar Nath Pandit

13. Pran Nath Bhat

14. Rohit

15. Bhushan Lal

Kashmiri Pandits staying in Valley at the time of Nadimarg massacre

Total No. of Families : 1535      

Number of People : 7823     

No. of Localities : 271

 

District No. of Families     No. of People
Srinagar 557 2228
Budgam   112 425
Baramulla 313 1404
Kupwara 16 64
Anantnag  419 1859
Pulwama 118 1543

Probe Nadimarg massacre

While some of the Kashmiri Pandit families have been persuaded not to migrate after the gory killings at Nadimarg the police have yet to achieve any major breakthrough in identifying the killers. As has happened in several cases of massacres and killings of other innocent persons as also the assassination of prominent leaders in the recent past the security authorities, which otherwise fail to prevent such strikes, blamed the Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad militants for the Nadimarg massacre within hours of the incident.

On the other hand the DIG police while claiming to have achieved some breakthrough in the investigations refused to divulge the details. Even in the past the police made similar claims about all the cases of killings but eventually all such cases were closed without identifying the culprits, not to speak of bringing them to book. In most cases of such massacres no independent probes are ordered and in few cases where such inquiries are held the reports, if any, are kept closely guarded secrets and no follow-up action is taken. Such an attitude of the authorities and their failure to order independent probes and keep every thing secret about the cases only creates doubts about the official claims regarding the culprits. The chief minister has alleged that Nadimarg massacre is an attempt to derail the peace process. It is also claimed that the Nadimarg massacre was aimed at frustrating the State government’s move to rehabilitate the Kashmiri Pandit migrants in the Valley in different phases. For restoring the affected people’s confidence it is important that the killer are unmasked and given stern punishment. The failure to probe incidents and bring the culprits to book in the past has only increased the sense of insecurity among the people.

This has also encouraged the killers to strike again and again more brutally. In most of the cases of killings including the latest incident at Nadimarg there has been obvious lapse on the part of the security and intelligence agencies who failed to prevent such killings. To identify the killers and bring them to book as also to find out the security lapses and inefficacy of the security agencies in preventing such incidents it is necessary that a high level and impartial probe is ordered into every such case soon after the incident. While police may go ahead with routine investigations the independent and impartial inquiries can help in preventing such incidents for the future while restoring to much extent the people’s faith in the administration in doing them justice. The killers must be unmasked and punished in every such case if the government is keen to prevent such incidents and go ahead with its peace process. (Editorial Kashmir Times, Jammu)

An Emotionally Turbulent Fortnight

By David Devadas

It has been an emotionally turbulent fortnight in Kashmir. Shock and anguish at the massacre of 24 Kashmiri Pandits overwhelmed all other sentiments but, before that, Islamic passions were rising to fever pitch over the “shock and awe” strikes against Iraq. If pan-Islamic militant groups were trying to whip that Islamic sentiment farther by hitting at non-Muslims, they miscalculated terribly. Indeed, they could not have done greater damage to their cause.

There has rarely been a more complete protest strike in recent years than the one last week against this massacre. Kashmir’s leading Imam, Mirwaiz Umar, declared that whoever had done it had grievously injured Islam.

The conflation of emotions in Kashmiri minds and hearts is sometimes very difficult for others to comprehend. On the one hand, they are deeply devoted to Islam. On the other, they warmly cherish the fusion of cultures that they call Kashmiriyat. To understand this co-existence of sentiments, one must realise that most Kashmiris see no contradiction in the subtle absorption of Hindu traditions into their practice of Islam, although these seem heretical to AhIe-hadis puritans. In fact, the ambivalent complexity of the Kashmiri mind or perhaps it is the Kashmiri heart-has led to confusion about what the entire militant movement is about. Such killings naturally lead people to presume that it is basically a Hindu-Muslim problem. That is a very limited under standing.

One must remember that Pandits were killed largely in two phases. The first phase lasted mainly from February to August 1990 and targeted individual Pandits or males in twos and threes. The second phase of Pandit killings has concentrated on mowing down entire families in particular villages and can be dated from January 26, 1998, when a massacre similar to this one occurred at Wandhama near Ganderbal. The first series of killings, in which about 150 Hindus were slaughtered, was often revoltingly depraved. Such brutality can only be explained in the context of the mass hysteria I wrote about it in my last column. Its roots probably lie in the collective memory of Kashmiri Muslims of their gross repression over a century-and-a-half. If that is so, that season of vicious blood letting in 1990 served as a catharsis. The Kashmiri Muslim went back by autumn that year to rediscovering his composite culture. Of course, that rediscovery was facilitated by the economic spin-offs of the mass migration of Pandits that those murders caused. Muslim school teachers, university professors, consultants at the most prestigious hospitals, wannabe journalists and civil servants in every department suddenly had unexpected avenues for promotion. For, though Pandit domination of government jobs had been gradually declining for 40 years, their learning, diligence and kinship network still left them with a strong grip over several professions.

Since the Pandits who remained beyond the summer of 1990 were mainly poor peasants who lacked the tools to build a new life out side the valley, the community ceased to be economically competitive. So it was easy for Muslims to bask once more in the comforting glow of composite culture. Many Muslims continued to want independence but now wished for the remaining minorities to go with them.

By the late l990s, the militancy had been largely taken over by jehadi warriors from Pakistan, churned out from the sprawling Dawat-ul-Irshad campus at Muridke or madarsas affiliated to the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (which also spawned the Taliban) or to Pakistan’s Jamaat-e-Islami. This type of warrior had no feel for Kashmir’s freedom struggle. They were steeped in doctrinaire sermons invoking Islamic resurgence on a global scale, before which national boundaries would crumble.

To these zealots, Kashmir was Islamic territory and putting its kafir Hindus to death would earn them a place in heaven beside the Ghazis of yore. They could not understand why Kashmiri Muslims got so upset at the deaths of their Hindu compatriots. It is ironic that these jihadi warriors killed Abdul Majid Dar, former Operational Commander of Hizb-ul Mujahideen, a day before they slaughtered Hindus just last week.

(Source: The Tribune)

The Guns Were Never Silent

By Shujaat Bukhari

The killings in Kashmir never stopped. Over 800 people died in the cause of a free and fair election.

And those who are on the frontline say that while militant activity, in the form of major attacks, showed a decline in Kashmir - until the strike in Nadimarg - after Mufti Mohammed Sayeed took over as Chief Minister in November last, it did not mean that the militant set-up was disturbed in any way.

As the security officials put it, the militants were waiting and watching how the situation in the Valley developed after the new Government assumed power.

But elsewhere in the State, particularly the Jammu region, major attacks continued to take place. Even in Kashmir, targeted killings of individuals never stopped - the daily toll in ones and twos kept the death count mounting. But there was a fall in spectacular fidayeen (suicide) attacks.

The figures of fatalities in militancy-related incidents in the five months beginning November 2, 2002, seem to bolster this view of a continued high level of attrition.

The number of deaths was about 850, which included 263 civilians, 130 security and police personnel and 450 militants. And among the killed were Abdul Aziz Mir, the first member of the newly-elected Legislative Assembly from Pampore, and the former chief commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen, Abdul Majid Dar. What is noticeable and commented on is the rise in militant activity in the rural areas and in the number of foreigners involved.

Official sources confirm that in the Kashmir Valley alone, there are as many as 4,000 militants, as infiltration from across the border never stopped. Not even during the unprecedented troops mobilisation along the International Border with Pakistan, after the December 13 Parliament attack. And as always, the number will go up in summer as the Chief of Army Staff, Gen. N. C. Vij, confirmed in Srinagar recently: “It will increase after the passes open.”(Source: The Hindu)

What Do The Survivors Say

Chuni Lal (60) - "When I heard a knock, I opened the door and saw some gunmen asking us to come out for searches being conducted to flush out the militants. They were wearing Army uniforms and spoke Urdu and Kashmiri. Later all of us were asked to assemble outside the police post and the indiscriminate firing started. When one of them said he (Chuni Lal) is still alive I pretended to be dead and thus survived".

Deep, son of Chuni Lal - "We had approached the Deputy Commissioner, Anantnag, on Saturday (22 March) and told him that we had some apprehensions and asked for security to be strengthened. But he refused to listen."

Bhushan Lal - “The security was insufficient. They (the police) surrendered their weapons and were nothing but lame ducks".

Som Nath - “The gunmen, dressed in army uniforms were carrying torches and introduced themselves as troops. They asked all the family members to vacate their homes and assemble near the Chinar tree in the main compound. They slapped me twice and asked me to show them other family members. We were only three people putting up in the house at that time. They took my wife outside and ordered her to join other people in the compound. My son smelt a rat and hid himself under the cot. I and my wife were asked to join the other people. But we gave them a slip and hid ourselves behind the haystack. The armed men then searched the whole house and broke open all the cupboards. They also took away cash of Rs 1.7 lakhs and other costly items before fleeing from the scene”.

Phoola - “The gun men were speaking pure Kashmiri. I heard one of them call a resident of this village by name. They told us that they were armymen and had to search the houses. They asked everybody to come out. I came out with my husband and daughter. But when they asked us to line up infront of the police picket, I slipped away towards the bushes. Within seconds, they started firing indiscriminately. And when they (the gunmen) left the village, I looked for my family. My husband and daughter were lying dead but my son Chandji had also escaped. He had hidden inside the house".

Mohan Lal Bhat (19) - "I was about to go to sleep when there was a knock at the door. My mother opened the door and there were three men wearing army uniforms, helmets and "bullet proof" vests. Two of them were bearded and they asked everybody to come out. One of them spoke in Kashmiri, which roused suspicion and when my father tried to resist, they dragged him out. Then they dragged out my mother, sister and uncle. I heard the commotion on the door and hid behind a tin sheet upstairs. Within fifteen minutes I heard gun shots and wails. They had left and reached near the school (a few dozen metres away) when they heard the cries of a child. I heard one of them shout to others that there is some work still to be done. Then I heard a gun shot. Later I got to know it was two year old Monu”.

Sanjay Koul - "We are in a dilemma that why were our people killed so ruthlessly. We requested the authorities several times that the security was not adequate and demanded more security, but they never heard us. Now, the result is in front of us. Our families have been eliminated.

Pran Nath Bhat (38) - We stayed back in 1990 after they (local Muslims) pleaded with us not to go, assuring us that we would be safe. But after this tragedy, they (local Muslims) want us to leave because even they don't feel safe here anymore".

Chand Kumar Bhat S/o Bansi Lal - "These people (Rashtriya Rifles men) were just 3 km away from here but took six hours to arrive after the killers left. Now they want us to stay back. How can we feel safe here? The government has said that if migrate, no aid will be given. We tell them we don't need you, we can take care of ourselves" END

Nadimarg Massacre - Global Reactions

KS Correspondent

George Bush, U.S. President - "The President strongly condemns the cowardly attack that left 24 innocent men, women and children dead in Shopian in J&K on March 23. The attack underscores the importance of the war on terror and strengthens our resolve to work with friends and allies to fight terrorism at home and abroad".

Robert Blackwell, U.S. Ambassador in New Delhi - "The U.S. condemns the ghastly murders of innocent men, women and children at Nadimarg village in J&K. The global war on terrorism will not be won until such atrocities end against all countries. We look forward to the terrorists being brought swiftly to justice".

Jack Straw, British Foreign Secretary - "These killings underline the need for continued action to eliminate the scourage of terrorism".

Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General - "The UN Secretary General condemns in the strongest possible terms as a cowardly act of terrorism the massacre of 24 Kashmiri Hindus, including women and children, that took place near the town of Shopian in Kashmir".

French Foreign Ministry Spokesman - "France condemns the attack which took place in J&K, resulting in numerous civilian casualties and conveys its condolences to the families of the victims".

The Times, London - "The despicable massacre...is a calculated attempt to provoke a blood bath at a time when the world is preoccupied with Iraq. The attacks came after three months of relative peace, and were deliberately brutal in order to goad the Indians into retaliation. It was a crime against Kashmir's Hindu minority and a shocking reminder that Kashmir remains a flash-point in the confrontation between the subcontinent's two nuclear powers. The militants cannot be allowed to provoke a return to nuclear confrontation. Musharraf is a vital ally in US efforts to deflect Muslim criticism of the war in Iraq. But he must be held to his commitment to end the fund arming and training of terrorists in Kashmir. Pakistan's condemnation of the massacre is prompt and welcome. It must be backed with an unrelenting crackdown on those who would shoot women and children in Kashmir"

Christina Rocca, US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia - "Continued terrorism like Sunday's attack threatens to provoke yet another crisis in the coming months. We look to Pakistan to do everything in its power to prevent extremist groups operating from its soil from crossing the LoC. Pakistan has taken steps to curb infiltration but we are asking the government to redouble its efforts. At the same time, we will use our good offices to continue to press both sides to take confidence building steps that will lead to a process of engagement addressing all issues that divide them (India and Pakistan) including Kashmir".

Nadimarg Massacre - Reactions

Governor G.C. Saxena - "It is a crime against humanity and a barbaric act of ethnic-cleansing".

Mufti Mohd. Sayeed, Chief Minister, J&K - "It is aimed at derailing our peace process but we are committed to go ahead. This is a barbaric act. I cannot be acquitted in this but such incidents have taken place in the past as well. Situation has to be made conducive before the return of Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley. If protected people like us are not safe there, what can be the fate of the common man".

Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, State Congress Chief - "It was a security lapse as no proper security arrangements had been made. An inquiry should be ordered into the massacre. All the guilty officials should be taken to task. The government, run by PDP and the Congress, is talking about rehabilitating Kashmiri Pandit migrants but adequate security arrangements are missing for those who chose to stay back in the Valley for all these years".

Mr L.K. Advani, Union Home Minister - "Such acts which are perpetrated against one particular community can only be seen as ethnic-cleansing. Pakistan is not only responsible for violence in J&K but even in other parts of the country"

Mr Omar Abdullah, Former Minister of State for External Affairs - "The brutal massacre of 24 Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir should be an eye-opener for the Mufti Sayeed government in the state to shelve its ill-conceived plan of bringing the minority community back to the Valley. The State government plans to rehabilitate them in Mattan and Khirbhawani places thus leaving them an easy prey for the militants. The Chief Minister had neglected the security concerns of the minority community. Our government could have also brought them back. But we have to see whether we are in a position  to provide them with cent percent security or not. While healing touch policy of the State government is well it had to see that it did not leave more deep and painful wounds on the people of J&K".

Mr M.Venkiah Naidu, BJP President - "These incidents were the handiwork of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism which are aimed at their long established agenda of ethnic-cleansing of the Kashmir valley of the heterogenous population. The Congress-PDP government in the state should immediately reassess the utility of continuing with its soft policy on terrorism. The situation in Kashmir requires a healing touch. This healing touch must heal only the victims of terror and not its perpetrators. In view of the serious situation the PDP-Congress Government will adequately respond in the national interest and review its earlier decision of disbanding the Special Operations Group (SOG). The international community must understand that Pakistan has not given up its cross border terrorism and should become aware of the evil designs of Islamabad and condemn it outright".

Prof. V.K. Malhotra senior BJP leader - "The Centre must direct the State government under Article 355 to take action against terrorism. If killings continue in state like this, there is no other alternative to imposition of Article 356 in the state".

Prof. O.P. Kohli, former BJP chief - "The spurt in terrorist activities was the direct result of the wrong policy being pursued by the State government. Terrorism cannot be curbed by showing softness to the militants but only by adopting a realistic and hard approach to them".

Mr M.Y. Tarigami (CPM), MLA - "There are no two opinions that State government should review security arrangements. The forces which say that the Pandits had migrated to Jammu for a picnic must see the realities. Even now some voices would be raised to mislead the public that the killings were executed by army".

Mr Harshdev Singh, Education Minister - "No civilised society can tolerate it How long we depend on U.S. certificate of great restrain".

Dr Mehboob Beg (NC) MLC - "There were lapses and loopholes in the security arrangements. The government examine that whether it should have given a premature statement on the Pandits return to the Valley."

Mr Jugal Kishore (BJP) MLA‑"Militancy has got a boost under new government while police and security forces were demoralised. If the government couldn't provide security cover to the Pandits putting up in the Valley, how it would take other Kashmiri migrants to the Valley? The government should not have disbanded SoG".

Mr Mohd. Khalil Naik (CPM) MLA - "The Kashmiri Pandits had approached me for security cover. I had sounded the concerned officers but no action was taken to provide them with the security cover. The state government should take strong action against the officers"

Mr Ajay Sadhotra (NC) MLA - A wave of insecurity was prevailing among the people in view of a series of militancy related incidents in the state. If the state government continued with its present polices, they day is not far when the militancy would spread to Jammu and then it would be difficult to contain it. Government should enhance ex-gratia compensation to Rs 5 lakh at par with the compensation given to the dependents of army jawans".

CPM, Polit Bureau - "This inhuman act has been deliberately done to spoil the chances of restoring peace and allowing the minority community to live peacefully in the Valley. Reports that police posted in Nadimarg village did not take action to protect the families which were targeted demand a proper inquiry into their role and prompt action".

Shabana Azami and others - "We condemn the ghastly killings of defenceless people in the strongest possible terms. The cowards behind the latest outrage are unlikely to identify themselves but the massacre is a desperate bid to communalise the Kashmir issue to sabotage any efforts towards ensuring the return of Kashmiri Pandits to their homes. We demand a thorough investigation into security lapses that turned the vulnerable Kashmiri Pandits into easy targets of mass murderers who pretend to be serving lofty causes. Our hearts go out to the survivors of the carnage in particular and Kashmiri Pandit community in general, the overwhelming majority of whom have been condemned to live the life of refugees in their own country because of Pakistan-aided terrorism in the Valley"

Mr Muzaffar Hussain Beg, Finance Minister - "Nadimarg carnage is a deep stab wound in the chest of Kashmir psyche. The repeat of such gruesome incidents will only reopen the old wounds. I wonder how would be the next bloody chapter of the state's bleeding history scripted".

Mr Shyam Khosla, veteran Journalists - "The Pulwama massacre of 24 Kashmiri Hindus is a part of Pakistan's evil conspiracy to complete the "unfinished task" of ethnic-cleansing of the Valley...No one seems to be concerned about the misery and plight of Kashmiri Hindus. They are the forgotten community...Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed's much publicised plans to resettle Kashmiri Hindus in the Valley is meaningless as his police force didn't fire a single shot at the mercenaries as they went about killing innocent women and children. While any movement back to the Valley is out of question at this juncture, what appears imminent is yet another wave of migration from the Valley...Release of a large number of suspected terrorists and disbanding of Special Operations Group have sent wrong signals".

Mr Maninderjit Singh Bitta, President, All India Anti-Terrorist Front - "Congress should withdraw support to the Mufti government in J&K. Governor's rule must also be imposed on that state and KPS Gill should be made the Governor. This kind of steps are essential for controlling militancy in Kashmir".

Acharya Giriraj Kishore (VHP) - “Nadimarg massacre is not only a blot for the state government but also the central government. The Centre should take stern steps to protect the innocent people from falling prey to the guns of terrorists. The Centre should immediately declare J&K as a disturbed state and dismiss the Mufti Mohammad Sayeed-led PDP-Congress government. The healing touch policy of the PDP-Cong government is responsible for the spurt in terrorist incidents in J&K".

Jammu Mukti Morcha - "The incidents like Nadimarg have highlighted one harsh fact that state government has failed to ensure their security. The only viable alternative to rehabilitate Kashmiri Pandits is to carve an area out of the Valley which will be administered by the Central government and state government having no role to play. Because of the Mufti Sayeed led government’s soft policy towards militancy there has been a spurt in the militancy in the state. Negotiations is no solution for militancy particularly when it is sponsored and supported by external forces. The militancy in J&K will not be brought under control unless security forces are given free hand to tackle the situation".

Mr Bal Thackeray, Shiv Sena Chief - "The attack on Kashmiri Pandits, recent spate of blasts in Mumbai and the Akshardam incident are examples of Islamic terrorism. We all have to be together and not talk in terms of Marathi, Gujarati or Bengali...but as Hindus. And we will all have to fight Islamic terrorism. The country is passing through a critical phase. We are like orphans and we have no clear leader".

Mr Kuldeep Raina, General Secretary Panun Kashmir - "It is surprising that despite tall claims to rehabilitate Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley the government failed to protect the one who were putting up there. Our organisation had already warned that the situation in the Valley was not conducive. The coalition government's policies are not in favour of Kashmiri Pandits".

Dr Praveen Bhai Togadia, VHP International General Secretary - "The militants have repeated Godhra in Pulwama district of J&K by mowing down 24 Kashmiri Pandits. The public faith in the system is waning in view of the rising number of attacks on the Hindus and their property in J&K and outside over the years. The soft state policy against the ultras and their patrons from across the border could lead to outbreak of another civil war. The watering down of the drive against militants by disbanding SOG of the state police and withdrawing cases against terrorists as part of the 'healing touch' policy has resulted in escalation of killings of Hindus in the state in recent months".

Source: Kashmir Sentinel

Kashmir History and Politics

Massacres

 

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World Kashmiri Pandit Conference, 1993
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