Jan 6, 1993: 57 killed, 295 shops set ablaze – Sopore Massacre

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By: Ghulam Muhammad
Sopore, Jan 05: Memories of a massacre allegedly carried out by the paramilitary BSF men on January 6, 1993 are still afresh in the minds of people of this north Kashmir town.
Nineteen years after the very thought of the ghastly scenes of that fateful day still sends shivers down the spines of the survivors and families of the victims here. On that fateful day 57 persons were killed, 234 shops and 61 godowns were torched allegedly by the paramilitary BSF men.
Recalling that tragic day, Haji Muhammad Abdullah, one of the survivors told Greater Kashmir, “After loading a fruit truck, the tyre of the vehicle got stuck in a manhole at main Chowk Sopore. As we came down, the BSF men started firing indiscriminately and my four colleagues Bashir Ahmad Shalla, Sajjad Ahmad Shalla, Muhammad Ashraf Shalla and Ghulam Rasool died on the spot,” he said.
Even those carrying the bodies were not spared, recalled locals.
According to them, Ghulam Nabi and Gulzar Ahmad Sheikh who volunteered to shoulder the bodies were also shot dead. “Braving bullets, they carried eleven bodies to graveyard and before they could bring twelfth, the duo fell to the bullets of BSF,” recalled Gulzar’s cousin Zahoor Ahmad Sheikh.
“What was their crime? Is carrying a body an offence? Those involved should be dealt sternly,” he demanded.
Fayaz Ahmad, a survivor, said that many persons were roasted alive after forces sprinkled petrol on the shops. “I couldn’t muster courage to step out of my shop on seeing BSF men running here and there, firing indiscriminately on the people on all sides. Suddenly a BSF man entered into my shop and pointed his gun towards me. But before he could fire I somehow managed to escape from the spot amidst the firing,” Fayaz recalled.
Nineteen years down the line, justice eludes the residents as perpetrators of the carnage have not been punished till date. “Neither the case witnessed any progress nor the men involved were punished or charge-sheeted in the court,” said a local Nazir Ahmad Mir.
When contacted, an official of Sopore police station said that case was being investigated by the CBI. “The case file is pending with CBI after they took it over on January 23, 1993,” he said.

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