Handwara, Sept 30-2009: Twenty years on, the memories of Handwara massacre are still fresh in the minds of people and continue to haunt the survivors in this north Kashmir town. On October 1 in 1990, troopers of 13 Kumaon regiment and personnel of Border Security Force killed 22 civilians in cold blood and set the town ablaze, to avenge the killing of a BSF trooper by militants.

Locals said it was a sunny day and people were busy in daily chores. A militant named Shabaz shot dead a BSF trooper in the market. “The BSF men in retaliation fired upon him, killing him on the spot,” said Nazir Ahmed, an eyewitness.

“The soldiers of 13 Kumaon traveling in a convoy through the town went berserk and showered bullets on unarmed civilians and torched crops, shops and houses without any provocation,” he added.

“The naked dance of death and destruction continued for more than an hour,” said Javid Ahmed, a local resident. The mere thought of that fateful day still sends shivers down the spine of the survivors. “When troopers tried to roast my brother alive, my mother resisted their attempts and tried to save him from their clutches. But they dragged her and pierced her body with bullets. After killing my mother they shot dead my brother also,” said Bashir Ahmed.

“The troopers reduced the town to ashes by torching shops and houses indiscriminately,” he said.

After the incident, police registered a case and assured the residents that erring troopers would be punished. A First Information Report was also registered against troopers of 13 Kumaon regiment. “There was no headway after the case was registered. We are waiting for the day when the killers would be punished. The government should reopen the case to hang the killers who snatched our beloved from us,” said a local resident.

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