August 2000 News

Massacres rattle Kashmir

2 August 2000
Shujaat Bukhari

Srinagar: A series of massacres by militants across Jammu and Kashmir since Tuesday evening, left 91 people, including 26 labourers and eight members of a village defence committee, dead and injured several others. The toll in the shootout at the Pahalgam camp for Amarnath pilgrims rose to 32 with three persons succumbing to injuries. Within five hours of the Pahalgam massacre, a group of militants descended on Katran village in Qazigund area of south Kashmir and massacred 19 labourers. An hour later, another group of militants struck at Sandu village near Achabal in the same district and shot dead seven brick klin labourers. The 26 bodies were later shifted to the Anantnag district police headquarters for identification. The labourers hailing from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh are collectively referred to as ''Biharis'' in the State. Two of the three survivors of the Katran massacre told The Hindu, that three gunmen clad in Army fatigues came to the village around 10.45 p.m. and called out to the labourers. ''They told us their vehicle was stranded in the mud a short distance away and sought help'', said a shattered Jagdish from Rai Bareily. All hell broke loose ''By then 27 of us came out and were asked to line up at a spot 100 yards away. The gunmen immediately began firing and killed several of my colleagues on the spot. Three of us managed to crawl away into a nearby paddy field,'' Jagdish said adding that he knew nothing of what happened after ''all hell broke loose''. Visiting the tiny hamlet this morning, this correspondent found an eerie calm there. An armoured vehicle of the Indo Tibetan Border Police, which rushed Mr. Deepak Pandey, ITBP assistant commandant, to the spot, was still present. In the Jammu region, unidentified militants gunned down 23 persons belonging to Hindu community in two separate incidents. According to an official spokesman, militants cordoned off Danmata and Kunda villages in Doda district early today, asked the residents to come out and opened fire killing 15 villagers. Eight members of a village defence committee were killed by militants in an encounter at Dachan in the same district, police said and added that five other civilians were gunned down in Gujjar Nar area near Banihal in Doda. Five of family killed Last night militants last night entered the house of Mumtaz Ganai, a surrendered militant, in Kupwara district and shot dead his grandfather, father, mother, brother and wife. The Kupwara SSP, Mr. Ashkoor Wani, claimed that the Hizbul Mujahideen, was behind the killing.


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