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Sunday, March 3, 2024

Nadimarg Massacre – A 13 Year Wait For Justice

It was the final act of brutality which forced the remaining handful of Hindus to finally quit their ancestral homeland, giving a final stamp of completion to the religious cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits which had started in the autumn of 1989. On 23 March 2003, 3 heavily armed terrorists dragged out 24 Hindus – 11 men and an equal number of women and two toddlers – from different houses in the hamlet of Nadimarg in Pulwama district of J&K. The terrorists abused them as kafirs and then opened indiscriminate fire with automatic weapons. Many died on the spot. Some, though grievously injured, tried to flee. But to no avail. The killers disfigured the bodies of the victims, looted their houses and took away the ornaments from bodies of the dead women

The bulk of the Hindus had moved out of Nadimarg in 1990, like those from other parts of the Kashmir Valley, as a systematic campaign of terror and widespread intimidation was unleashed by Islamists in the state. Only four extended families, comprising 52 people, stayed back in their traditional lands. This news report from 2015 captures the pain and helplessness of some of the survivors of that fatal night-

“One of the survivors that night, Mohan Bhat, escaped death by jumping out of a first floor window, while others were being rounded up by militants. But his father, mother, sister and uncle were not so lucky.

Bhat escaped to a nearby field, where he saw his dead father, with his head resting against a chinar tree. Bhat’s uncle lay in his father’s lap. His mother and sister were killed in the courtyard of the house, he would learn later. While hiding in the field, he saw the terrorists flee.

They heard a child crying, and one of them shouted to another in Kashmiri, ‘Ye karnawun chupe’, ordering him to silence the child. There were more gunshots: The command had been obeyed,” Pandita wrote in his book ‘Our Moon has Blood Clots’, a book on the plight of Kashmiri Pandits.

After the massacre, Bhat moved to Jammu, where he now works as a laboratory assistant in a government school. He did not respond to several phone calls from IANS. He had told Pandita, the only journalist he spoke to, that he lost everything, “But life has to move on.”

Complicity of State Police in the Massacre

Rahul Pandita has revealed the involvement of J&K police in the massacre in his book. The news report adds-

“Rahul Pandita, quoted Bhat as saying “the terrorists were accompanied by some policemen who guided them towards our houses.” Pandita said the inquiry ordered into the killings has not yet given its findings, as “there is a possible involvement of policemen deployed to protect the Pandit families.”

Bhat, according to Pandita, is particularly angry with Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, the Chief Minister then and now (Mufti Sayeed passed away in Jan, 2016). Pandita quoted Bhat as telling him: “He (Mufti Sayeed) wanted me to stay but I refused. He then sarcastically told me that he would like to see what my Hindu brethren will do for me in Jammu.”

Activist Sanjay Tikoo, who heard the news on the radio in Srinagar, some 65 km away, rushed to Nadimarg and applied in what Kashmiri is called “sinder” (vermillion) on the faces of the victims to hide their bullet marks, before helping with the last rites. “I did that because they were brutally hit in their faces,” Tikoo, who heads a social group called Kashmir Sangarsh Samiti, told IANS.

Tikoo holds the state and central governments responsible for not coming clean on the massacre, asserting state actors were also responsible.”

Muted reaction of media and liberal intelligentsia

Even though the Nadigram massacre took place in 2003, one year after the 2002 Gujarat riots, it did not get even a fraction of coverage the riots generated. Our media elites and jet setting civil society activists who don’t tire of fighting for the rights of convicted terrorists like Afzal Guru and Yakub Memon, or outraging over deaths of dreaded criminals like Sohrabuddin, have been quiet all these years over this brutal massacre. No one asked any tough questions of Mufti Mohammed Sayeed. How one expressed anguish that terrorists like Bitta Karate, who have openly admitted to murdering scores of Kashmiri Pandits, still roam free. The silence over recent brutal murders of Hindu activists in Kerala and Karnataka show that the disease of liberal double standards is alive & kicking.

Many Kashmiri Pandits Hindus took to social media to remember the horrible #NadimargMassacre and express their pain at the interminable wait for justice. Their messages also revealed the callous attitude of valley politicians.

Media flippancy and insensitivity towards the plight of Kashmiri Hindus is exposed by this tweet-

Thanks to social media, today many people got to know about the #NadigramMassacre for the first time. It is time the entire country stood together and exposed the hypocrisy of our self-appointed guardians of liberalism and justice. And joined our Kashmiri brethren in their fight for justice.

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