Abdul Hakeem in his book about Sopore Massacre, “Paradise on Fire”, says, “On a cold 6 January, 1993 morning in a pre-planned operation, cadres of HM approached a BSF bunker (…) and suddenly wrenched away bone LMG from the hands of two BSF personnel… Losing a weapon is a major misdemeanour in the armed forces. Instead of the rational response of sending teams to retrieve the weapon, the BSF personnel began indiscriminate firing… When the local police officer tried to intervene, the BSF threatened to shoot him… Nearly fifty people died in this incident, most of them non-combatants.”
The above massacre took place because the Indian forces are given liberty to apprehend anyone in the garb of Armed Forces’ Special Powers Act (AFSPA). It was one of the most horrible days for Kashmir when the brutality was at its peak. In this regard, Zahir-Ud-Din in his book “Flashback” says, “It only happens on the silver screen. But that day, it happened in the world-famous apple town, Sopore. A man engulfed in flames ran for his life as two men in uniform watched with amusement. The man, however, defeated the flames with the help of a daring lady. He survived. After so many years, he narrated his daring escape from his death.”
“Abdul Ahad Mir was eagerly waiting for a customer in his cloth shop in Sopore’s main market on January 6, 1993. A few rounds were fired and in a jiffy, guns started trotting. People ran for their lives and the town wore a deserted look. People accuse the Border Security Force of torching the entire market. Abdul Ahad confirms this. He said: I saw people running for their lives. Several people fell to BSF bullets. I decided not to go out of my shop. I hid myself underneath a counter. Meanwhile, two BSF men entered my shop,” he writes about the Sopore Massacre.
He further wrote, “Mir paused for a moment. Perhaps he recalled the moment and shivered. ‘The BSF men talked to each other. There is nobody inside. Let us set the shop ablaze’, he heard them saying. The duo started making a pile of cloth rolls on the counter beneath which Mir was hiding. The pile of clothes was torched. In a moment, the entire shop was in flames.”
“I decided to die on the road. But when I came out from beneath the counter, my clothes caught fire. On the road, I saw two BSF men laughing at me. Most probably they thought I was going to die anyway; therefore, they didn’t shoot me,” Mir was quoted in the book.
“Mir didn’t know where he was going. Suddenly, someone threw water on him. The flames extinguished. ‘I looked upon and saw a lady with a bucket in her hand in a narrow lane of Muslim Peer area of the devastated town,’ he said. The entire town was placed under curfew but a team of doctors from Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences reached Mir to save him. Mir was later treated at SKIMS,” the writer says.
“He goes to his shop regularly but the horrifying experience of that day still haunts him. It all started when militants fired at a BSF party at Mohallah Baba Yousuf Lone on January 6, 1993, killing two of them on the spot. The militants also decamped with a SLR (Self Loading Rifle) of a slain soldier. This angered the BSF men. They opened indiscriminate fire, killing 60 people. At least 300 shops and 200 houses were torched,” the account of Sopore Massacre in the book reveals.
This is one of the most horrible incidents that have been taking place in Jammu and Kashmir since 1990. Soldiers have liberty to kill anyone whom they suspect in the garb of the APSFA. These events are a blot on the democratic credentials of the largest democracy in the world.
The irony is that those involved, in these heinous crimes, were never taken into account. The need of the hour is to stop these kinds of incidents and revoke AFSPA.
In the shadow of guns, it is quite difficult for Kashmiris to express their true opinions and enjoy their liberty. So, everyone should conform to resolve this issue forever, according to the wishes of people. If not, then there is every possibility that it may engulf the whole South Asia, given that the dispute is nestled among the three nuclear powers – India, Pakistan and China.
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