1994: Kupwara Massacre

The northern town of Kupwara had observed a shutdown on January 26, 1994, as a mark of protest on the Republic Day of India. This enraged the army personnel deployed in the area. To avenge the shutdown, soldiers of the Punjab Regiment led by Second Lieutenant S. Bakhshi opened unprovoked and indiscriminate fire near the town’s bus stand on January 27. Twenty-seven civilians fell to bullets, and scores were injured.

The police registered a case (First Information Report 19/94) under Sections 302, 307 and 149 of the RanbirPenal Code, and recorded the statements of a number of eyewitnesses during investigation. The witnesses held this particular army unit responsible for the killings. The police sought details of the officers and personnel deputed for road opening on that day. But the army furnished no such information.

In a reply, the army unit said that a court of inquiry had been constituted in the case. But again, the army disclosed no details of the inquiry subsequently. The case was finally closed as “untraced” in April 1997 when repeated communications for information were ignored by the army.

The case was taken up in the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) by the head of the International Forum for Justice (IFJ), Mohammad Ahsan Untoo. On January 28, 2003 the SHRC listed the case for final arguments on March 11. The order was made after a Deputy Secretary in the Home Department of the Government of India submitted a report from the Inspector General of Police of the Criminal Investigations Department in Jammu and Kashmir along with the covering letter from the state’s Director General of Police.

Responding to the SHRC orders, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has conceded that Indian troops were involved in the 1994 Kupwara massacre. The Commission said that it would decide on the case on its next hearing in March.