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Targetting Minorities in Jammu & Kashmir

The first significant communal attack of Kashmir Valley's minorities took place in 1986 in Anantnag. But no lives were lost and prompt government action in the aftermath restored the confidence of the minorites in the Valley as peace was quickly restored. But 1989 was different. With the rise of the Islamist militancy in the Valley, Kashmiri Hindus became easy targets of communal elements heavily armed by Pakistan. In his book "The Lost Rebellion: Kashmir in the Nineties," Manoj Joshi describes the early killings in the Valley that terrorised the whole community of Kashmiri Hindus out of the Valley.

Early Killings and Rapes of Women

"In December 1989, Joginder Nath, who taught at the Radha Krishna School in Srinagar, found his name, along with three other teachers, pasted on a noticeboard in the school by the Allah Tigers. They were told to quit the valley since they were agents of the intelligence services. Nath immediately left for his family house in Anantnag and stayed there. However, even there he was accused of being a government agent and he fled the valley in June 1990.

"Others like Satish Tikoo, done to death on 2 February were not so fortunate. Satish was a social activist and leader of sorts. That morning when two Muslim youths whom he knew called at his home in Habbakadal, his sister, suspecting something, told them that Satish was not home. Satish was somewhat  annoyed unwilling to believe that he was under threat when his sister reported her suspicions to him. He stepped out of his house to look for the men, and in an instant shots rang out killing him on the spot.

"This was just the beginning. On 23 February, Ashok Qazi, a field
officer of the state agricultural department, was shot in the legs and
left on the roadside for an hour before the terrorists put him out of his
misery by shooting him dead. A week later, it was the turn of Navin
Saproo, a telecommunications engineer, who was shot dead in
Kanikadal, Srinagar. On 27 February, twenty-year-old Tej Kishen was
taken away from his house in Badgam and later, his body, bearing
signs of torture and beatings, was found hanging from a tree.

"A more gruesome fate awaited B.K. Ganju, a telecom engineer and
Srinagar resident. He was first told that his name figured in a list of
persons to be killed. In the ensuing days, he and his family suffered in
apprehension, not knowing what to do. On the night of 18 March, their phone rang incessantly, but they let it ring, not daring to respond. In the morning some persons knocked at the door, claiming they had urgent work with Ganju. Too scared to respond, Ganju called the police for help, even as two militants broke into the house. Ganju ran to the roof of the house and hid in a drum used for storing rice. The intruders searched the house and not finding him, left. But they returned, apparently on a signal from a watching accomplice outside, who had spotted Ganju. They went up the stairs to the roof and pumped the drum with bullets, Ganju's blood soaking the rice. Two years later, after interrogation of a militant, the police found out the names of the two killers -- Javed Ahmed Shalla and Mohammed Yasin Bhat. They belonged to what became one of the most virulent tanzeems -- the Ikhwan-ul-Muslimeen.

"Ganju's assassination was followed by the killing of P.N. Handoo, an assistant director in the state information department, and A.K. Raina of the department of civil supplies. Eighty-five-year-old Radha Krishen of Karan Nagar was dragged out of his house in early April and kicked about the neighbourhood before being shot dead. Motilal Pandit was kidnapped from his home in Tankipora and his headless body was later found in a jungle near Kupwara.

"Worse befell Sarwanand Koul, a retired headmaster and well-known poet who used the pen-name 'Premi'. A student of Kashmiri culture and language, Premi had not heeded the call of those who suggested that he leave his house in Shali village in Anantnag district for his own safety. On the night of 30 April, three armed men appeared at his door and demanded that the sixty-seven-year-old poet and his twenty-seven-year-old son, Virendra, go to their camp to answer 'some questions'. Some neighbors did try to protest, but quickly acquiesced when the militants swore that the two would be unharmed. No one bothered to tell the police. Two days later their bodies were found twenty kilometres away, with limbs and fingers broken and eyes gouged out.

"In May, attacks on the pandits intensified across the valley. In Baramula two young men, Satinder Kumar and Swarup Nath, were taken away from their homes, and later, their bodies bearing marks of torture, including burn injuries, were found. In Kulgam, militants kidnapped Bhushan Lal Kaul, an engineer in the public works department. Later, his body was found with the eye gouged out. Bansi Lal Zutshi had sent his family, but he stayed back to look after his house. On the night of 23 May, militants barged in, tortured him, hacked his body and dumped it in a gunny bag. In Badgam, Makhan Lal Raina, working as a medical assistant in a government college was asked to 'accompany' the militants for questioning. Later, his mutilated body was recovered.

"Not a few Kashmiri pandits believed that if they lived quietly without involving themselves
on either side, they could create an island of normality. One such person was Prof.
K L Ganju, a popular teacher at the Sopur Agricultural College, who was sure that since
he had harmed no one, no one would harm him. But in early May, when he, his wife Prana
and cousin Pista were having dinner, four terrorists ordered them out and took them near
a mosque on the Jhelum river. Ganju was shot and died instantly; Pista, who was hit on
his heels, dived into the river and swam to safety. The fate of Mrs. Ganju was worse -- she
was raped and later killed."                      

"Rape was part of the militants' attack on women. In March 1990, the wife of BSF
Inspector, M.N. Paul, was abducted, raped for several days and her limbs broken before
she was killed.

"Sarla Bhat, a resident of Anantnag, worked as a nurse at the Shere-e-Kashmir Institute
of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), Soura, Srinagar. She was kidnapped by JKLF militants
from the nurses' hostel. On 18 April, her bullet-riddled body was found with a note claiming
that she had been a mukhbir. A post-mortem showed that she had been raped several
times before her death. In the case of Bhat, it is believed that she heard a conversation
between a wounded militant and a doctor during the course of her duty, which could have
exposed the latter's collusion with the terrorists. This resulted in her terrible punishment.

"In May, in Shupian, Brij Nath Kaul, his wife Ratna and sister Sunita were abducted. The women were stripped and molested and later raped, Brij Nath Kaul was clubbed to death. The women's fate was even more gruesome: they were done to death by being dragged behind a jeep.

"G.K. Muju was a lecturer at the Medical College in Srinagar and a working committee member of the Kashmiri Pandit Conference. In February 1990, Muju was told that his name had been seen in hit lists pasted by the militants in some mosques in the city. The following month, his family went through a number of harrowing incidents: people throwing stones at his house, mysterious phone calls, and so on. On 6 March, Muju, his wife and children left. However, his eighty-year-old father, a retired teacher, and his seventy-five-year-old mother stayed behind. On 6 July, some intruders entered the house and brutally knifed the old couple to death. Nothing was taken away from the house.

"By the middle of the year some eighty persons had been killed with great brutality, and the fear psychosis had its effect from the very first killings. Beginning in February, the pandits began streaming out of the valley, and by June some 58,000 families had relocated to camps in Jammu and Delhi."

Yet many in the rural areas stayed behind only to become victims of communal terror later. By early 1990s communal terror had spread to Doda district and in late 1990s and early 2000s even Jammu began to witness killings.

A partial listing of killings and massacres

August 14, 1993
A passenger bus in Kishtwar (Doda district) was stopped and fifteen Hindu passengers were massacred.

March 21, 1997
Sangrampura Massacre
In Sangrampura, a village 20 miles south of Srinagar in Jammu & Kashmir state, gunmen burst into homes of Hindus, took away seven men and killed them. 

June 15, 1997
Passengers on a bus from Gool to Ramban was stopped by two men in comouflage uniforms. The Hindu passengers were asked to unboard and three were taken to a nearby nallah and shot. All three were Kashmiri Hindus.

January 25, 1998
Wandhama Massacre
The most shocking of the massacre of Kashmiri Hindus took place in Wandhama, a village near Srinagar, on January 25, 1998. The two dozen-odd terrorists dropped in for tea, around 2030 hours. The tea was served and they left a little after midnight.

When they arrived, the foothill village of Wandhama, 30 km outside Srinagar, boasted four families of Kashmiri Hindu Pandits, numbering around 23. When they left, there was none.

Not alive, that is. Barring a terrified, grief-stricken Vinod Kumar Dhar, all of fourteen, seeing through brimming eyes the bodies of his mother, sisters and relatives, their bodies marred with bullet holes, their last resting place a pool of their own blood. 

This was followed by two more massacres, one at Khurhama, Ganderbal on August 9, 1998 in which four members of a family were killed. The third massacre took place September 17, 1998. Five male members of a minority community family and close relatives of a counter-insurgent were killed after being dragged out of their houses at Dagapora in Ganderbal late last night and shot them in cold blood.

April 17, 1998
Prankot Massacre
Twelve-year-old Sudesh isn't sure whether she is lucky or not. She is yet to decide which is worse: Escaping death at the hands of militants, or being forced to live with memories of her entire family being massacred right in front of her eyes.

For this little girl from Prankot village in Udhampur district, currently under treatment at the Jammu medical college, the night of April 17 cannot be forgotten -- that's when militants gunned down 18 members of her family. Sudesh was brutally attacked with a sharp-edged weapon. The terrorists left after she fell unconscious, thinking her dead.

Soba Ram is another survivor of that bloody night. The militants killed eight members of his family. Only his second wife Rajkumari, their newborn child and two daughters, aged eight and five, who were in another village, escaped them.

About 1,000 people from these villages are in Pauni and Riyasi, fled in fear and stayed in temporary camps for a long timer before returning to their homes.

June 19, 1998
Champnagri Wedding Massacre
In an attack on a wedding party in the mountainous Doda district, 175km north-east of Jammu city, two bridegrooms and more than 20 wedding guests in a mountainous village were killed. The men were singled out and shot before the gunmen fled. Seven others were injured

July 27, 1998
Thakrai and Sarwan Massacre
At least 16 Hindus were killed in two night-time attacks in Doda district in two hill villages just a few kilometres apart. In Thakrai, terrorists burst into home of a Hindu family and opened fire with automatic weapons. Five people were killed on the spot and others later died from their injuries.

A little later there was a similar attack on a Hindu home in the village of Sarwan. Again, automatic weapons were used, at least eight people were killed.

July 19, 1999
Fifteen people including eight women died in a terrorist attack in Doda district. Among the dead were five members of the village defence committee, set up to protect remote villages from such attacks. Another six people were wounded, four of them seriously.

In another incident on Tuesday, four construction workers were killed in an attack on their camp in the Poonch district.  Over forty people have lost their lives in similar terrorist attacks.

March 20, 2000
Chattisinghpora Massacre
The attack late evening in this village was carried out by 40 to 50 terrorists. They forced the residents from their homes, segregating the men from the women. They then opened fire on the men with automatic weapons. Thirty-four died instantly. 

August 1, 2000
Amarnath Pilgrimage Massacre
At least 48 persons were killed in Pahalgam base camp of Amarnath Yatra that attracts 120-150,000 pilgrims every year in August.

Another two massacres took place in Anantnag where 19 Hindu migrant laborers from Bilaspur in Bihar were killed; and in Doda district where  Hindu villagers were lined up and shot dead.

At least 90 people were killed in terrorist attacks across the state.

February 8, 2001
Kot Charwal Massacre
Families of Bakkarwal shepherds who had dared to take on terrorist groups active on the mountains above Rajouri became the victims of terrorism today as fifteen of their members lost lives to the terrorist bullets. They were all members of village defence committee set up to protect vulnerable Hindu minorities, a development of some significance.

It was not until the afternoon of February 9, as the embers of the burnt down shacks of the villagers had cooled, that the soldiers arriving at Kot Charwal discovered the charred bodies of victims. Soon they found the burned body of a woman, wrapped around that of the infant she had been trying to protect. By late evening, 15 bodies had been found. Seven were of children, the youngest of them just four years old.

May 9, 2001
Six villagers were beheaded in a terrorist attack in Doda district after 11 Hindu villagers were confronted by a group of armed men while grazing cattle in the remote Doda district. Several hours later, six bodies - all decapitated  were discovered by the police. Three other villagers survived the attack with deep wounds to the throat.

July 20, 2001
Amarnath Pilgrimage Massacre
13 people were killed and another 15 wounded in an attack by terrorists on a Hindu pilgrimage high in the Himalayas. The terrorists exploded land mines then engaged Indian security forces in a gun battle at Sheshnag, halfway along the route to the cave-shrine of Amarnath. Six pilgrims, and five porters were among the dead.

July 22, 2001
Doda Massacre
Fifteen Hindu villagers were dragged out of their homes in Doda district and shot dead at point blank range.

August 3, 2001
Massacre of Shepherds
Seventeen abducted Hindu shepherds were massacred in an attack in Doda district, some 240 km north of Jammu. The terrorists kidnapped 21 shepherds who had taken their animals to graze on higher ground.

August 6, 2001
Railway Station Massacre
Three terrorists, armed with automatic weapons and wearing Indian army uniforms, launched an attack at Jammu railway station late afternoon and killed 11 people and injured more than twenty.

March 30, 2002
Raghunath Temple Massacre
The two terrorists who carried out the assault had arrived at the Raghunath temple complex in the heart of Jammu city just after 10-15 a.m. in a white jeep. They immediately opened fire at the guards outside the gate, killing three of them on the spot. One terrorist was unable to enter the temple, and was shot while trying to escape through the crowded market. The second terrorist entered the temple complex and killed four pilgrims and temple staff. Eight others were injured. Temple priest Jeevanand Giri escaped death only because the terrorist's assault rifle had run out of ammunition by the time he reached the Dattatreya temple, where prayers were being conducted.

May 13, 2002
Kaluchak Massacre
In a gruesome attack, three members of a suicide squad of terrorists killed 30 persons, including seven bus passengers and 23 others in the family quarters of the Army, near Jammu today. Thirty-four persons were injured in the attack, and some of them are in a critical condition.

The attack on the bus took place around 5.35 a.m. at Kaluchak on the Jammu-Panthankot National Highway, a few kilometres from the Indo-Pakistan International Border. The three terrorists, who were dressed in Army fatigues, had boarded the bus, bound for Jammu from Kulu in Himachal Pradesh, at Samba, 30 km. from Jammu.

July 13, 2002
Qasim Nagar Massacre
A general strike paralysed parts of Kashmir on Monday in protest at the killing of 27 Hindu civilians by suspected pro-Pakistan Muslim militants near Jammu.
The strike was most effective in Jammu, the winter capital of Indian-administered Kashmir, but it had ended without incident by mid-afternoon.

Jammu July 13. Twentyfive persons were killed and 21 injured, a number of them critically, when militants attacked a slum locality, near here this evening. The dead included 10 women, nine men, and a three-year-old boy. The militants lobbed grenades and opened fire at random on civilians, in an area inhabited by slum-dwellers, police sources said. Some of the victims were killed on the spot, they said, adding that there was a temple in the vicinity of the militant strike. A few killed were near the temple.The toll is likely to go up.

July 30, 2002
In their first strike on Amarnath pilgrims this year, terrorists have killed two persons and left five others wounded, when a cab was blown up with a grenade blast in Anantnag township of south Kashmir. The broad daylight strike was carried out amid heavy security arrangements this evening when the Jammu-bound pilgrims were returning after darshan from the holy cave.

August 6, 2002
In the second strike on Amarnath pilgrims within a week, unspecified number of militants in a daring act, attacked the "heavily guarded" base camp, gunning down nine devotees and injuring 30 others in their sleep in the wee hours at Nunwan near Pahalgam today. The Hindu pilgrims were attacked in the early hours of Tuesday morning, while they were sleeping at a camp on their way to a shrine in the foothills of the Himalayas. Gunmen threw a grenade and then opened fire on the travellers. 

November 24, 2002
Rughnath Temple Massacre
Ten people were killed and 53 injured when a terrorist attacked the historic Raghunath temple in Jammu
on Sunday evening, hurling grenades and firing  indiscriminately on the heavily guarded temple complex
in Raghunath chowk. Over 50 people were injured.

December 19, 2002
Terrorists killed three young girls in Thanamandi area of Rajouri district in Jammu division for not wearing
burqas (veils). The following day terrorists  barged into the house of Jan Begum in Darhal area (Rajouri
district) and beheaded her for failure to observe burqa diktat of terrorists.

According to villagers, posters by the Lashkar-e-Jabbar, an off-shoot of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, had been
appearing in educational institutions in Rajouri district for the past one week asking Muslim women and
girls to wear burqas and strictly follow the purdah system.

Elsewhere, at Rebbon near Sopore four members of a family, including a six-year-old, were gunned down
by terrorists.

March 24, 2003
Nadimarg Massacre
At 2:30am on March 24, 2003, minority Hindus in the village of Nandimarg in Kulgam-Shopian belt in
southern part of Kashmir Valley, 70 km away from Srinagar, were pulled out of their homes, assembled
under a Chinar tree and mowed down by bullets sprayed by Islamic terrorists. The 10 to 15 terrorists who
posed as Security Forces, disarmed the 9-member Police Guard and killed all but two Hindus, the latter
escaping with injuries. Among the 24 persons killed were two children aged 4 and 5 years, 12 women
and half a dozen elderly people.

April 29, 2006
Kulhund and Basantgarh Massacres
About 10 heavily armed Laskhar-e-Taiba terrorists came to Kulhund village in Doda district, 200 km from Jammu, and ordered people out of their houses in the two localities of Panjoli and Thava. They were herded into the houses of two village heads. The terrorists then bolted the doors of the rooms and opened indiscriminate fire, killing 19 people and injuring nine. Ten people were gunned down in Thava and nine in Panjoli. According to witnesses, some of the terrorists were clad in army fatigues while others were wearing Pathan dress. The terrorists also killed 9 Hindus they had abducted yesterday from a village in adjoining Udhampur district. The bodies of nine of them were found today from the high reaches of Basantgarh area. Four bodies were recovered yesterday. Two persons were kidnapped.

More on Jammu & Kashmir
Refugee tent colonies in Jammu during early years of Kashmiri Pandits exodus from the Valley
The massacre at Wandhama
Nandimarg massacre