EXC: Tracing The Untraced, Closed Cases Of Kashmiri Pandits’ Killing

SRINAGAR | Updated: 03 September, 2022 9:32 am IST
Locals holding a demonstration against killing of Hindus in Kashmir. (file photo)

When the Supreme Court on Friday asked the petitioner, NGO ‘We the Citizens’, to approach the government seeking rehabilitation of Kashmiri Hindus and Sikhs who had migrated from the valley due to terrorism, it was a moment of déjà vu for a community whose suffering has always been kept under wraps.  

For a community that had seen the worst of genocide and had been uprooted from land that had long belonged to them, Kashmiri Pandits’ plea for justice against the massacres always fell on deaf ears.  

In their plea, ‘We the Citizens’ called for a probe by a special investigation team (SIT) into the targeted killings of Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley in the 1990s, which had triggered their exodus from Jammu and Kashmir. 

The New Indian looks back at some of the horrifying incidents of the killing of Kashmiri Pandits that the authorities have yet to bring to a conclusion. 

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Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS) has demanded investigations into all the massacres. The body has approached State Human Rights, stating the investigating agency has not filed a reply. In September 2012, KPSS filed a rejoinder to the report of the police regarding the Wandhama massacre on January 26, 1998.  

“The CID department alleges that the massacre of 23 Kashmiri Pandits was carried out by some unknown militants. Based on the suspicion of the local people, it was ascertained that militants of Harkat-ul-Ansar were responsible for this brutal massacre,” it reads. 

“The CID department further claimed that on February 17, 1998, the hills of Safapora were cordoned off and six militants of Harkat-ul-Ansar were killed and one was apprehended after being injured. The injured militant, on being interrogated, according to the CID department, divulged the details regarding the involvement of 21 members of Harkat-ul-Ansar in the killing of victims of the Wandhama massacre,” stated the KPSS rejoinder.  

“As per this CID communiqué, the injured militant before his death on February 24th, 1998, also informed the police about Captain Shair Khan, the Commander of Harkat-ul-Ansar who ordered the massacre of Kashmiri Pandits,” it stated.  

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“As per CID letter, 13 other foreign militants, who were also involved in the killings of Kashmiri Pandits of Wandhama, were killed,” it said. “The CID department should furnish the copies of FIRs and investigation reports under which they claim that these foreign militants were killed in encounters with armed forces. Based on this CID response, there should be two FIRs where the killings of these foreign militants have been registered and investigated.” 

KPSS said if the police had filed FIRs regarding the encounters in which these foreign militants were killed, then surely the police would have identified these foreign militants responsible for killing victims of the Wandhama massacre. “We urge that the police should be asked to provide a list of these 20 foreign militants killed and the place where they have been buried.” 

“According to the CID department’s letter, the statement of the injured militant who later died in the hospital is crucial, as it forms the basis of the police investigation regarding the Wandhama massacre. Therefore, we request SHRC to order the police department to submit the statement of that injured militant, and also, the officers responsible for carrying out that investigation and recording that statement should be asked to depose before this Honourable Commission,” it reads.

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“According to this CID department response, 20 foreign militants have been killed who were involved in the Wandhama massacre, while as per the statement of the injured militant questioned by police, there were 21 militants involved in the massacre, which means that there is still one person who has not been brought to justice. We urge this Honourable Commission to ascertain from the police department regarding that one militant.” 

KPSS further said, “We do not think the police have done their duty in terms of punishing the culprits responsible for the Wandhama massacre. Instead, we believe that the police department, with very little evidence on record, cannot conclusively prove that those 20 foreign militants killed were involved in the Wandhama massacre. Also, with a lack of credible investigation, the police department has closed the case as untraced even when, according to their admission, one more militant, responsible for the massacre, is at large,” it said. 

“We urge SHRC to order its own Police Investigation Wing to carry out a thorough investigation into the Wandhama massacre, which will help in ascertaining the identities of the culpable and bringing them to justice. This investigation would help in instilling the confidence of the Kashmiri minorities.” 

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Taking cognizance of the rejoinder to SHRC, the then Director General of Police, in reply, stated that after the investigations they concluded that the militants behind the Wandhama massacre were untraced. 

Regarding the Tailwani, Anantnag Kashmiri Pandit killings, on February 4, 2000, police in reply said that seven terrorists were involved. Six of them were killed. Police said that one terrorist was absconding. The police added that the investigation into the case was closed and the challan was produced in the court of law. 

Regarding the Pethbug Dialgam, Kulgam incident, on March 5, 2000, in which a Kashmiri Pandit woman was killed, police said that the terrorist involved was killed. It says that the case stands closed as the challan was produced before the court of law.

The police have closed the case of the Nadimarg massacre in which 24 Kashmiri Pandits were killed by three terrorists on March 24, 2003. “Two of them were killed and another was arrested along with a weapon,” it added. 

The police have also closed the Sangrampora, Budgam case in which eight Kashmiri Pandits were killed by terrorists on March 22, 1997. 

Meanwhile, in Hugam, Anantnag, a Kashmiri Pandit woman was killed by terrorists on December 12, 2001. Police said that four terrorists were involved in the attack. While three of them were killed, one remained untraced until the police closed the case.

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