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Sunday, May 28, 2023

20 years on, no justice for families of Nadimarg massacre victims

Twenty years ago, on this day in South Kashmir’s Nadimarg village, 24 Kashmiri Pandits (KPs) were lined up and shot dead point blank by terrorists from the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba. These included 11 men, 11 women and two children.

On Thursday, their remaining relatives, friends and other members of the community came together to grieve and cry for justice.

For the past two decades, the assembly of the mourners has been taking place every year; tears flow and voices are raised. But for those whose loved ones were killed in Nadimarg, there’s no sign of a closure, for they continue to be denied justice.

24 Hindu victims of Nadimarg massacre

The case hasn’t moved anywhere; no one has been arrested, none identified and no justice done.

“As many as 24 people were lined up and killed that night. What happened after that? Has anyone been arrested? What have the courts done? There is no justice for us,” says Satish Kumar, whose father and sister were among those shot dead.

Reliving the horror, Ramesh Kumar Pandita says, “I was there. I can never forget them. Time has stood still for me ever since. Gunmen wearing military-style clothes knocked on our doors and wanted us to come out.

“The gunmen lined up the KPs and then opened fire. I escaped under the cover of darkness. I don’t know how I escaped and ran to the Zainpura police station.

“I told them about what was happening in the village. But they just sat quietly. They didn’t do anything and made me sit in the police station. Only in the morning did they go to the village. But by then all had finished.

“My father, two sisters-in-laws and their two children had been shot dead.”

Pandita says he has no tears left but there’s one question that continues to haunt him: Why did the police not act?

Those who survived allege that the policemen who were deployed in the village did not fire a single bullet when the terrorists were lining up the victims and shooting them dead.

“The massacre could have been stopped had the police fired a single bullet, but they kept quiet. Why? Has this been investigated?” questions Satish Kumar, who was saved because he was in Jammu for some work on that fateful night.

He says, “How did the terrorists know who was living in those houses? Somebody must have directed them in the village? Why has the police not been able to identify the informers?”

After the massacre, the rest of the Kashmiri Pandit families fled the village, which today presents a ghostly picture.

The Nadimarg massacre case, in fact, is a glaring example of how the atrocities committed on the minority community have been treated in Kashmir.

In February 2011, trial proceedings were halted as the then government had failed to produce witnesses in the case in the eight years since the massacre. The trial court in South Kashmir’s Shopian district had dismissed the government’s petition against the halting of trial proceedings

A decade after being dismissed, the High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh at Srinagar on August 24, 2022, ordered the reopening of the case by recalling the order dated December 21, 2011, whereby the criminal revision petition in the matter was dismissed.

“The court initially dismissed the case for want of witnesses. We, the survivors, could not go back to the village or attend the court proceedings out of fear. No follow-up presumably led to the case being closed. Why couldn’t the case be transferred to Jammu? This baffles us even today. In Jammu we could have pursued the case, but the then government was not interested? Why?” asks Chandji Kher, a survivor from the Nadimarg village.

The questions are many, but for the survivors and the community, the answers are not forthcoming.

“The courts, civil society, political parties … no one is interested in us. People were massacred in Nadimarg. And we are still waiting for justice. It’s been 23 years,” says Bhushan Lal, another survivor from the village, who now lives in the Jagti camp in Jammu, and every year organises the prayer meet.

-By Deepika Bhan ([email protected])

(This article has been published via a syndicated feed with a modified headline and some minor edits)

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  1. The genocide of Kashmiri Pandits at the hands of Islamic Jihadists perpetrated in the early nineties when Congress was at power in the Center didn’t receive global coverage due to political issues. Redress was a far cry. LeT terrorists who got support from Kashmiri Muslims to wage such genocidal attacks remained at large due to Govt. apathy. The film Kashmiri Files reflect this story to some extent.


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