Kupwara: Normal life was affected in Kupwara town of north Kashmir following a general strike against the cold-blooded massacre of 27 civilians by Indian army personnel on 27 January 1994.
All shops and other business establishments, petrol pumps, tuition centers and private offices remained closed and transport was completely off the roads in Kupwara, Kralpora, Trehgam and other areas. A large number of people, including children and families of the victims, assembled in the main chowk of Kupwara town from where they reached martyrs graveyard and paid rich tribute to the people murdered by the army.
The people pledged that the sacrifices of martyrs would always be remembered. Sources said that Chairman Muslim conference Shabir Ahmad Dar, brother of Maqbool Bhat, Zahoor Ahmad Bhat, human rights activist Mohammad Ahsan Untoo, and other leaders were arrested by the police earlier in the morning and not allowed him to address the people, as had been scheduled.
At least 27 people were killed dozens other injured by the Indian army on this day after people refused to participate in India’s Republic Day function in a nearby army unit. 22 years later, the culprits are still roaming free.
Gulam Mohammad Dar, a senior citizen and a trader in Kupwara town, said that day all the shopkeepers were opening their shops and transporters resuming their business after a one day strike, but a group of Indian army men, headed by a Major later identified as Major Bakshi reached the market and told traders to shut their shops. The murdering Major apparently asked traders why, after the “invitation”, they had not participated in the Republic day function. The traders, Dar said, refused to close their shops, and the Major ordered his associates to open fire on the people. The personnel indiscriminately opened fire and at least 23 people were murdered on the spot while four others passed away in different hospitals of Kashmir.
Dar said that on January 28, the Kupwara police registered a case against the army Major and his unit, but all these years later they were still roaming free. He said they were observing a strike every year in the town only to raise their voice, and try to attract the attention of the international community.
A large number of people mourned the dead, with some women seen weeping near the martyr’s graveyard. “India put an iron nail into my heart and till my death I will feel its pain,” one of the women told reporters.