To their shock and utter disbelief, people came to know about the massacre of 34 Kashmiris at Chattisinghpora, a beautiful hamlet in the Anantnag district, on March 20, 2000. This time the victims were Sikhs.
According to reports, around 15 to17 unidentified gunmen wearing army fatigues entered the hamlet, and herded all males,, including children, towards the local gurudwara. The gunmen then opened fire, killing 34 persons in cold blood. Scores sustained injuries. One of the injured later succumbed to his injuries.
The sole survivor of the massacre, Nanak Singh Aulakh, narrated the gruesome tale. “A unit of Rashtriya Rifles stationed nearby failed to intervene during the attack. The attackers wore military uniforms, and were led by a man they addressed as ‘Commanding Officer’. As they withdrew, they allegedly shouted Hindu slogans, and left behind bottles of liquor.”
The massacre took place during the eve of the then US president, Bill Clinton’s visit to the subcontinent. The Government of India and the State Government were quick to put the blame on the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) and the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen.
But the All Parties Hurriyat Conference accused the Indian government of having carried out the killings to discredit the Kashmiri independence movement, while Syed Salahuddin, the head of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, said: “Mujahideen have nothing against the Sikh community which sympathizes with our struggle. We assure them that there never was and there will never be any danger to Sikhs from Kashmiri freedom fighters.”
In the introduction to her book, The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God, and World Affairs, the then US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright accused “Hindu militants” of perpetrating the act. Hindu organizations protested the allegation, and ultimately the publishers, Harper Collins, edited it out of subsequent editions of the book. They acknowledged the error in an email to The Times of India.