ANANTNAG: Twenty-one years have passed since the infamous massacre carried out by the Border security forces (BSF) in Bijbehara, killing at least 43 people and injuring over 150, the families of the deceased continue to await justice.
The gruesome incident occurred on October 22, 1993 when the BSF troopers resorted to indiscriminate firing on the people protesting peacefully against the siege if Hazratbal shrine.
The survivors even after two decades of the massacre shiver to recall the gory scene as they say it was no less than a dooms day.
Recalling the horror, Peerrzada Khursheed, a lawyer by profession said, “It wasFriday and the shutdown was being observed in the entire Valley in protest against the Hazratrbal shrine siege. After offering Friday prayers people decided to take out a peaceful march against the siege and assembled outside Jamia Masjid. It was a procession of over 12 to 15 thousand people.”
As the procession, he said, reached near Jablipora crossing after marching through the streets of the town, the BSF troopers who were already deployed in the area aimed their guns on the people without any provocation.
“The BSF personal continued to shower bullets on the peaceful protesters for around 10 minutes killing 30 persons on spot. 13 others later succumbed to injuries in different hospitals taking the toll to 43,” Peerzada told Kashmir Reader while recalling the incident vividly.
Over 150 persons, he said, were also injured with some of them suffering permanent disability.
Another resident, Riyaz Ahmad who was a part of procession, said that the BSF troopers even fired upon the ambulances and those who tried to rescue the injured.
“For about half-an-hour the BSF men did not allow any rescue. Had they allowed rescue of the inured many of them could have been saved. It was like river of the blood flowing through the market, no less than a doomsday,” Riyaz told Kashmir Reader.
“One of the youth, Bashir Ahmad Sheikh was killed while he tried to shoulder an injured. Another man who was taking his injured to hospital on his back was fired upon outside the hospital killing him on spot. However, his brother survived later after four months of hospitalisation,” he added.
Though the separate enquiries by the state government as well as the BSF itself were initiated into the massacre but the victim families continue to await justice, as both the enquiries did not reach any conclusion.
“The report of the magisterial enquiry ordered by the then government clearly indicted 13 BSF troopers including a deputy commandant for giving approval to the firing. In the report the enquiry team said that the act on part of BSF was unprovoked and out of vengeance. But none of the indicted BSF men was punished. The enquiry report only removed the 174 battalion of BSF responsible for the massacre,” said a resident who had survived the massacre.
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), he said, also passed orders of stringent action against the indicted forces but no action followed.
“After the NHRC orders 13 BSF men were charged with murder but all of them were later acquitted by the BSF court even after being identified by six witnesses,” he said.