September 2002 News

Sikh village shows little faith in electoral politics

27 September 2002
The Statesman
Kavita Suri

Chittsinghpora (Kashmir): An eerie silence prevails along the 15-km-drive to the nondescript hamlet of Chittisinghpora from the temple town of Matton. Chittisinghpora is the largest village of Sikhs in Kashmir. About 3,000 members belonging to 450 to 500 Sikh families live here. On the night of 19 March 2000, militants had swooped down on this village and killed 38 people. Two and a half years later, the mood has not changed much. A small BSF camp has been set up. But nothing can take the element of fear out of the place. Chittisinghpora remains untouched by the poll fever which has gripped the rest of the state. Elections have failed to enthuse the villagers for the horror is still fresh in their memories. A stone inscription stands outside the local gurudwara where most of the menfolk were herded to and then shot. Bullet holes still on the walls of the gurudwara. Though jobs have been given to the bereaved families, that hasn’t lessened their trauma. Mrs Sita Kaur, who lost her husband Sardar Deedar Singh Mehta, a CBI inspector, on that fateful night, just cannot let her only son, Mr Manjeet Singh, 27, work in the J&K Armed Police. “There is constant fear in my mind as to his well being? Has he reached the office safely?,” Mrs Kaur said, adding that she thought of leaving the village after the massacre but they could not leave their ancestral homeland. Only six families have left the village for safe places. The fear of gun has forced Mrs Kulbhushan Kaur, another widow whose husband Joginder Singh was also killed, to take her 16-year-old daughter off school. “How can I allow her to go to the school when we are so scared?” she asked, however adding that her two sons are attending the village school. The villagers are least interested in being a part of the electoral process. Chittisinghpora is part of Shangus Assembly segment of south Kashmir, which goes to polls this Tuesday. PDP leader Ms Mehbooba Mufti had come to them just a few days back. Congress candidate Mr Gulzar Ahmed, NC candidate Mr Abdul Majid Mir and others have also paid visits. “The point is whom should we vote far and why should we vote at all? None of them have been able to ensure our security”, accused Mrs Sita Kour. However, Sardar Janak Singh Ranger, a villager and Anantnag district president of Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), feels that the villagers will vote for NC as it is only because of Sheikh Mohamamd Abdullah that they are living in Kashmir. However, not everybody supports him. “Till date we don’t know who killed my father,” said Mr Bhupinder Singh, in his early twenties. He has just got a job in ordnance. He feels that the state government, responsible for their safety, has failed to deliver. Many families lost all of their male members. Fakir Singh was killed along with his two married sons and a grandson. He has left behind wife Mrs Jeet Kaur and her two daughters -in-law Mrs Sushinder Kaur and Mrs Praaskash Kaur. However, they did not have any complain about their Muslim brethren.


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