FOURTEEN YEARS AGO IN KASHMIR

Date: 06/04/2017

14 years ago on this day 24 Kashmiri Pandits were massacred in Nadimarg Kashmir, hereís
their story

It was the night of 23rd March 2003. At about 10:30 PM at night masked
terrorists entered Nadimarg, a sleepy village in Pulwama District of Jammu
and Kashmir and massacred 24 Kashmiri Pandits including men, women
and toddlers.

Now 14 years later we revisit the dastardly incident and remember just one
aspect of one of the biggest injustices heaped on the citizens of this
country since independence. We were aided in this story by the tweets of
Journalist Rahul Pandita who provided information which the
establishment has tried to hard to stifle.

In 2003 the village of Nadimarg was home to only some 52 Kashmiri
Pandits spread across 4 extended families, with others having already fled
the valley during the 1990 exodus of their community. In the days leading
up to the massacre, on 21st and 22nd March the assailants which
comprised of members of a terrorist group and some youths from a nearby
village scouted Nadimarg to ascertain the location of the Kashmiri Pandits.
And on that fateful night of the 23rd, they came with guns. As Rahul
narrates, Pandits were taken to a courtyard, made to kneel down and
and shot in their heads. The assailants didnít even spare toddlers.
The police later provided a token security to the surviving Pandits in the
desperate hope that they stayed on. Not because they wished for the
Pandits to remain in their motherland but because they wanted to ensure
that the ashes of the victims were disposed off in Kashmir. They feared
their making way to Jammu and then possibly getting paraded on the
streets could have become an instigator for communal riots.

Mohan Bhatt one of the survivors of this attack recounted how he had
managed to save himself by hanging on a roof wedge. His parents, sister
and uncle werenít so fortunate. To further aggravate his pain, the very next
day he caught a man from his own village selling his dead motherís
Dejharu, a piece of jewelry sacred to Kashmiri Pandits.

Mohan revealed another shocking detail when he claimed that the terrorists
were even accompanied by a few policemen. Even reports from 2003
were suggestive of an investigation against 9 police officers for being
complicit in the crime. There were also reports of two terrorists involved in
the attack visiting the nearby police picket for months before the attack. But
almost all the facts still lie behind a veil of secrecy.

The motive? The assailants reportedly wanted to celebrate Pakistan
Resolution Day which also falls on 23rd March or wanted to extol revenge
for the post Godhra riots in Gujarat. We might never know as the local
police hasnít made any effort to reveal the identity of the killers let alone
punish them.

Most of the above details are a result of a ground zero investigation by
Kashmiri Pandit Sangarsh Samiti (KPSS) an organisation formed by a
group of Pandits who have stayed back in the valley. The president of
KPSS Sanjay K Tikoo called it a well planned attempt and also alleged that
nobody has been for the heinous attack.

Its been fourteen years since the attack took place and battling the
haunting memory of that fateful night, the Pandits from Nadimarg still
await justice.It was the night of 23rd March 2003. At about 10:30 PM at
night masked terrorists entered Nadimarg, a sleepy village in Pulwama
District of Jammu and Kashmir and massacred 24 Kashmiri Pandits
including men, women and toddlers.

Now 14 years later we revisit the dastardly incident and remember just one
aspect of one of the biggest injustices heaped on the citizens of this
country since independence. We were aided in this story by the tweets of
Journalist Rahul Pandita who provided information which the
establishment has tried to hard to stifle.

In 2003 the village of Nadimarg was home to only some 52 Kashmiri
Pandits spread across 4 extended families, with others having already fled
the valley during the 1990 exodus of their community. In the days leading
up to the massacre, on 21st and 22nd March the assailants which
comprised of members of a terrorist group and some youths from a nearby
village scouted Nadimarg to ascertain the location of the Kashmiri Pandits.
And on that fateful night of the 23rd, they came with guns. As Rahul
narrates, Pandits were taken to a courtyard, made to kneel down and and
shot in their heads. The assailants didnít even spare toddlers.
The police later provided a token security to the surviving Pandits in the
desperate hope that they stayed on. Not because they wished for the
Pandits to remain in their motherland but because they wanted to ensure
that the ashes of the victims were disposed off in Kashmir. They feared
their making way to Jammu and then possibly getting paraded on the
streets could have become an instigator for communal riots.

Mohan Bhatt one of the survivors of this attack recounted how he had
managed to save himself by hanging on a roof wedge. His parents,
sister and uncle werenít so fortunate. To further aggravate his pain, the very
next day he caught a man from his own village selling his dead motherís
Dejharu, a piece of jewelry sacred to Kashmiri Pandits.
Mohan revealed another shocking detail when he claimed that the
terrorists were even accompanied by a few policemen.

Even reports from 2003 were suggestive of an investigation against 9
police officers for being complicit in the crime. There were also reports of
two terrorists involved in the attack visiting the nearby police picket for
months before the attack. But almost all the facts still lie behind a veil of
secrecy.
The motive? The assailants reportedly wanted to celebrate Pakistan
Resolution Day which also falls on 23rd March or wanted to extol
revenge for the post Godhra riots in Gujarat. We might never know as
the local police hasnít made any effort to reveal the identity of the
killers let alone punish them.
Most of the above details are a result of a ground zero investigation by
Kashmiri Pandit Sangarsh Samiti (KPSS) an organisation formed by a
group of Pandits who have stayed back in the valley. The president of
KPSS Sanjay K Tikoo called it a well planned attempt and also alleged that
nobody has been for the heinous attack.

Its been fourteen years since the attack took place and battling the
haunting memory of that fateful night, the Pandits from Nadimarg still await
justice.

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