Lack Of Credible Investigations In Nadimarg Massacre

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Srinagar: On the intervening night of 23 and 24 March 2003, twenty four members of Kashmiri Pandit community, which included twelve women and two children, were shot dead in a brutal massacre in Nadimarg, Shopian by unidentified gunmen. The deceased Kashmiri Pandits had chosen not to migrate in 1990 when other Pandits where fleeing the valley. The massacre forced the rest of the surviving Kashmiri Pandits of the said village to migrate from the valley.

Based on the statements of the aggrieved and eyewitnesses more than ten unknown armed gunmen, who were dressed in Army uniform and carrying sophisticated weapons, had entered the Kashmiri Pandit houses in Nadimarg in late hours of the fateful night and had ordered all the members of Kashmiri Pandit families to come out for crackdown, citing that there were militants hiding in the area. Before entering the houses, the unknown gunmen had overpowered the police guards, who had been stationed there for protection of the minority community. The armed gunmen had snatched the weapons of police guards and had locked them inside the guard room. The armed gunmen brought out members of the Kashmiri Pandit community on gun-point and gathered them outside their houses, near the police guard room and shot dead twenty four of them on spot and injured another. A few of the members of the Kashmiri Pandit community had managed to escape. The armed gunmen had also looted cash and golden ornaments from Pandit houses worth hundreds of thousands of rupees.

An FIR number 24/2003 under section 302, 450, 395, 120-B, 427 RPC 7/27 Arms Act was filed in Police Station Zainapora on the following day on 24 March 2003. Almost a month later, Border Security Force (BSF) claimed on 18.04.2003 that it had gunned down three militants in an encounter in Kulgam district whom the BSF alleged were responsible for the massacre of Kashmiri Pandits in Nadimarg. The BSF claimed that it had recovered incriminating documents from the dead militants connecting to the Nadimarg. The police produced the charge-sheet before District and Sessions Court in Pulwama on 04.12.2003 and accused Zia Mustafa (a militant from Pakistan administered Kashmir), three dead militants (killed in Kulgam) and 7 policemen (who were on guard duty that night) as the culprits. Zia Mustafa later pleaded in court that at the time of the incident, he had already been under detention by Special Operations Group at Anantnag.

The court later discharged the police accused personal who were charged under section 302 (murder) however the Court charged them under the Police Act – accusing the police men of being guilty of cowardice.

The case has been under trial in Sessions and District Court in Shopian for fourteen years now. There has been no justice done to the victims of the massacre, whose families have migrated from the valley following the massacre.

Most of the massacres in Kashmir against minorities started taking place after 1996, when State forces had consolidated the counter insurgency mechanisms by the creation of Ikhwan – pro-government militia (1994), Special Task Force (1994), which later became Special Operations Group, Village Defence Committees (1995). The creation of these groups led to a deep militarized polarization and accelerated the new efforts of the Indian State’s dirty war in Jammu and Kashmir. A feature of violent incidents of this phase was the obfuscation of truth and culpability. Examples of such dirty war operations include the disappearance and murder of 5 foreign tourists in Pahalgam in 1995, which later was revealed as a secret operation of Indian agencies.

Nadimarg massacre is one of many massacres – such as Chattisinghpora – where minorities were attacked, the State indicted Pakistani and local militants, but the truth behind the massacres never came out. In Chattisinghpora the two Pakistani nationals were acquitted. In Nadimarg it appears only 1 person faces trial and according to court records there is not enough evidence against the accused, which may lead to another acquittal.

We demand credible investigation of cases of all the killings perpetrated by state and or non-state actors in last twenty years.

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