ANANTNAG: Chittisinghpora massacre might appear as a closed chapter for the government but for Narinder Kour, who lost four family members in the bloodbath, the wounds are still fresh.
“I cannot forget the horror of the day till I am alive. It seems our beloved ones have been massacred only yesterday,” Kour told Kashmir Reader.
On the evening of March 20, unidentified uniformed gunmen entered the Sikh village and killed at least members of the community after rounding them up near the local Gurduwara.
Recallng the fateful evening, Kour sad,”At around 8 pm some uniformed men entered our house and asked middle-aged and young male members to come out. I and my father-in-law also came out and questioned their action. But they assured us that all of them will be released after identification and questioning. Their assurance gave us some relief and we returned to the house.”
A few minutes later, she said, they heard a gunshot followed by heavy firing.
“The firing continued for at least five minutes. After the firing stopped we came out of our houses only to see our loved ones dead,” she said.
She said the killers had ensured that none of the people assembled near the Gurudwara survived.
“Every victim had been showered with five to six bullets in their chests and heads,” she said.
Gagandeep was only 10 years old when the massacre took place, but he still recalls “little streams of blood that flowed from the bodies of the victims”.
Gagandeep lost his father Utam Singh, a maternal uncle and two cousins in the massacre.
“The killers did not even let those returning from work to enter their homes. They caught hold of everyone returning from work in the evening and took them to the field near Gurudwara. Then they brought men from their homes,” he said.
He said many such incidents took place in the valley during the past 20 years but no government bothered to probe this massacre.
“The silence of the people at helm over this murder of innocent Sikhs is not only painful but also raises many questions,” Gagandeep said.
“Nothing will heal our wounds. But once the killers are identified our pain will ease a bit. If these people think that we will forget they are mistaken. Organising remembrance meetings on the anniversary of the massacre is only aimed to convey the killers and the rulers that we have not forgotten,” he said.
Won’t rest till culprits punished: APSCC
All Parties Sikh Coordination Committee (APSCC) on Monday asked the government to start a fresh investigation into the massacres of Chattisinghpora and Barakpora, saying the two are interlinked.
It also urged the people of state to stand united for communal harmony and solve their long pending issues.
“We will not rest till the real culprits of Chittisinghpora massacre are punished,” chairman APSCC Jagmohan Singh Raina said in a statement.
On 20 March 2000, 34 members of the Sikh community were killed by unidentified uniformed gunmen, ahead of the then US President Bill Clinton’s visit to India.
Raina said while New Delhi has blamed militants for the massacre and claims killing at least five men in this regard, it is yet to present hard evidence backing up its claims.
Raina added, “Questions still remain unanswered. According to police, nearly 20 unidentified gunmen carried out the massacre at Chattisinghpora and so far only five have been caught and killed which was later on proved wrong. The killed persons who police claimed to be militants were actually innocent residents of Barakpora proved by the judicial enquiry of Justice Pandan Commission. Also their bodies were burnt and hastily buried in a nearby village.”
“It was a drama created by officials in a melodramatic way wherein it was said that militants were caught in a burning house during a gunfight and their bodies charred beyond recognition. We are questioning whether the men killed on that day were actually involved in the killings or not? So far, police has failed to produce any hard evidence in this regard leaving many to question whether the security officials really knew who killed the men of Chattisinghpora.”
The APSCC chairman said the committee constituted by the government to find out the culprits has failed to solve the mystery. “We urge the government to conduct fresh probe into the incident and allow the Justice Pandan Commission to further investigate the incident as Barakpora and Chattisinghpora cases are interlinked,” he said.
“If government fails to do so, we will consider it as a huge injustice with the Sikhs of Kashmir,” Raina added.