January 27, 1994: When Army killed 27 people in Kupwara

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BARAMULLA: On January 27, 1994, the Army gunned down 27 people in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district , adding to the already long list of such massacres carried out by forces in the Valley and to the roll call of victims who have been denied justice .
According to eyewitnesses, at least 27 civilians were killed when the Army’s 15 Punjab and Garhwal regiments opened indiscriminate fire near Iqbal Market in the frontier district. But even after 20 years, no action has been taken against the culprits.“It was cold – blooded murder, but no action was taken against the killers. Every year the traders here observe shutdown on January 27 to pay tribute to the victims. We also offer prayers for these martyrs at the graveyards,” the president of the Kupwara Traders Federation, Haji Ghulam Mohammad Mir, told Kashmir Reader on Sunday. The Army had carried out the massacre apparently because it was infuriated over a complete strike in the area on the day before.“Like elsewhere in the Valley, a complete shutdown was observed in Kupwara on January 26. But the Army mistook it as strike against manhandling of a local Imam by 41 RR on the night of January 24-25. Also the Army had warned us against observing strike on India’s Republic Day,” they recollected. “First a bullet was fired from somewhere, and then soldiers of Punjab and Garhwal regiments started firing indiscriminately,” they added.
After the massacre, the soldiers launched a crackdown in the area and did not even allow people to either collect the dead bodies or shift the injured to hospitals.
“We managed to inform the Deputy Commissioner concerned, but he appeared helpless too,” Ghulam Ahmad, an eyewitness, said.
“The next day, bodies were buried in the martyrs’ graveyard at Rajpora while an FIR was registered by police against the Army. But no action was taken against the Army,” he added.
Apart from observing shutdown, this year the people would switch off the lights at their homes and shops in the evening in protest against the massacre.