‘Town Observes Shutdown, Remembers 27 Civilians Killed By Soldiers On Jan 27, 1994’
SRINAGAR: Twenty two years ago, when markets in this frontier town were abuzz with activity, a single gunshot followed by volley of bullets fired by army soldiers left this town soaked in blood.
The indiscriminate firing left 27 civilians dead and scores of others injured. This north Kashmir town since 1994 observes shutdown on January 27 every year to pay homage to the victims of the massacre. Like every year, the residents of Kupwara town observed a complete shutdown on Friday, all the shops were closed and streets wore a deserted look. Shops in adjoining Kralpora and Lolab also remained closed and traffic was off the roads. People offered congregational Fateh-a-Khawani for the martyrs at different places, including Mazar-e Shuda at Rekipora in Kupwara.
Locals while recollecting that fateful day said, “Army soldiers resorted to indiscriminate firing to teach people a lesson as the denizens of Kupwara had defied their diktat and had observed a shutdown on January 26. Till date the soldiers responsible for the carnage have not been booked and no one knows the whereabouts of the accused. In fact no one even knows whether investigating agencies ever made an attempt to identify the accused or just pushed the case under the carpet.”
Though an FIR vide no. 19/94 under Sections 302, 307 dated 27-01-1994 was registered at Police Station Kupwara, however, till date no one has been prosecuted in connection with the carnage. “We don’t even know whether the investigation agencies recorded the statement of the eyewitnesses or not,” said Mushtaq Ahmad of Rekipora Kupwara.
While recollecting the incident, a survivor while talking to Greater Kashmir said, “I saved my life by crawling around 200 feet and then taking a shelter inside a shop. At the time of incident I was right near Rekipora bridge suddenly I heard sound of a bullet followed by indiscriminate firing. I crawled for about two hundred feet till I got shelter in a shop. The firing lasted for around half an hour” said Abdul Majid of Kupwara.
He said, “After the firing stopped the entire stretch from Rekipora bridge towards the main town was soaked in blood. Blood was everywhere and survivors were crying for help,” said Majeed.
“After unleashing death, soldiers asked survivors to assemble in the ground and undergo an identification parade. No one was allowed to lift the bodies and take the injured to the hospital. A boy died in front of his father, who begged the soldiers to allow him to take his son to the hospital. But soldiers didn’t pay any heed towards his pleas,” said a survivor.