Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) said on Monday that the massacre of 50 civilians in Sopore on January 6, 1993 and subsequent investigations into the carnage have shown that the “Indian state continues to protect its soldiers”.
On that day, the soldiers of Border Security Force’s 94 Battalion massacred 50 civilians, injured 10-20 others and set afire more than 500 shops and 20-25 houses, a JKCCS statement said.
Along with Sopore chowk, Shahabad, Bobimir Sahab, Muslim Peer, Shallapora and Kralteng, Samad Talkies theatre and the women’s college in the town were burnt by the BSF soldiers.
Justice Amarjeet Choudhary Commission set up on 30 January 1993 visited the state only once till 30 April 1994. Its term was not extended and it did not submit any report about the carnage, the JKCCS statement said.
Simultaneously, the CBI had been tasked with the investigation in January 1993 itself. The agency took 20 years [January 1993 to July 2013] to carry out investigations, only to seek closure of the case after citing the lack of evidence, the statement said.
“The farcical actions of the state are in contrast to the available evidence that could be used to prosecute personnel of the 94 Battalion,” the statement said.
According to the JKCCS, which works for human rights, the CBI record has the names of 10 BSF officers and personnel who could be indicted in this case, including then deputy inspector general of BSF RS Jasrotia and commandant S Thanggapan
The statement said, “Instead, the CBI sought to rely on a BSF court martial to close investigations, although it never went through the court martial file as the BSF refused to share the same.”
“In fact, through RTI information gathered, it is clear that the court martial process by the BSF was only an attempt to cover up the massacre as the seven BSF personnel prosecuted were ultimately found guilty of only ‘mischief by fire or explosives with the intent to destroy houses’ and the maximum punishment awarded was ‘3 months rigorous imprisonment,’” the statement said.
The survivors of the Sopore massacre have contested the closure of the case, and the CBI has been asked by the TADA court, Srinagar, to produce the entire investigation record on 20 January 2014, the statement added.
The statement said: “Despite earlier court orders to the same effect, the CBI is deliberately refusing to share the record, so as to further delay the proceedings. The survivors have sought to challenge the CBI before the court as this is a way to contest the lies of the state.”
The JKCCS said that “denial of justice” to the victims and the survivors is an “endorsement of the crime” by the Indian state.
“The remembrance of martyrs of Sopore massacre is the reiteration of the pledge of the people of Jammu and Kashmir that crimes perpetrated by India will not be forgotten and perpetrators never forgiven,” the statement said.