Kupwara shuts down on massacre anniversary

Baramulla: Normal life was hit for the second consecutive day Monday in the neighboring Kupwara district as a complete shutdown was observed to mark the 20th anniversary of the ‘Kupwara massacre.’
On January 27, 1994, soldiers of 15 Punjab and Garhwal regiments of Indian Army opened indiscriminate fire on civilians at the Iqbal market in Kupwara town for observing a shutdown on India’s Republic Day. 27 civilians were killed and several injured in the firing. Since then, a shutdown is observed in the frontier district every year to mark the massacre.
All shops, business establishments, financial institutions remained shut and skeletal traffic was seen plying on the otherwise busy roads of the district.
Amid apprehensions of protests, the authorities had deployed police and paramilitary personnel in strength even as groups of youth took to streets at several places and clashed with the forces.
Later in the day, people marched to Martyrs Graveyard Rigipora, where the massacre victims are buried, and offered prayers. Special prayers were also held for martyrs in different mosques.
A complete blackout was also being observed by the locals to remember the massacre victims when reports last came in. Last June, the Defence Ministry of India had sought closure of the case being heard by the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC), claiming that the latter was not empowered to probe into complaints against Army.
The case was reopened by SHRC after a complaint by a local human rights group.
A report submitted by Inspector General of Police (CID) to Director General of Police, J&K, on May 11, 2012 had stated that the forces deployed in Kupwara under the command of 2nd Lieutenant S Bakshi “indiscriminately fired” at Bus Stand Kupwara “without any provocation”, killing several persons besides injuring many.
The police, however, confirmed killing of 18 persons only, and accused the Army of non-cooperation in the case.
In its response, the Defence Ministry has given Army a clean chit by saying that the incident “occurred due to provocation by anti-national elements”.