Baramulla: Twelve years after a mysterious grenade blast on a rally organised by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) killed a dozen participants and injured 53 others, the killers have not been tracked down. An inquiry ordered into the incident never submitted its findings.
The families of the slain civilians decry that PDP despite coming to power thrice since the blast, no effort was made to expose the conspiracy and track down the killers even as senior leaders had named names involved in the incident.
The PDP had organised the rally on April 8, 2004 in the border town to demand opening of Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road during the campaign for the parliamentary elections.
The PDP leaders had blamed the police for tossing the grenade but despite being at the helm of affairs, the party did not pursue the investigations in the incident. The wounded included the then finance minister Muzaffar Hussain Beigh and tourism minister Ghulam Hassan Mir while the PDP President Mehbooba Mufti and party candidate for Baramulla constituency Nizamuddin Bhat escaped unhurt.
An eyewitness Ghulam Hassan Rather says that police opened fire after the blast occurred. “A bullet hit my leg and I fell down in a pool of blood. Someone bundled me into a vehicle where wounded minister Gulam Hassan Mir was already writhing in pain,” Rather, a resident of Sheeri village, who was the zonal president of the PDP then, told Kashmir Reader. His cousin Parvaiz Ahmad Rather was not lucky though. He died on the spot when the grenade ripped apart human bodies.
“Someone hurled a hand grenade towards the front row of the rally. The grenade rolled slowly on the road. People saw it and attempted to rush towards safety but in a few seconds it exploded,” Rather recalls.
The participants in the rally had come from the far-off villages of Baramulla parliamentary constituency. Some of the slain villagers were from Tangmarg, Sopore and Barramulla.
The PDP leaders rushed back to Srinagar. Muzaffar Hussain Beigh, addressing a press conference, described the incident as a conspiracy against PDP’s agenda and blamed police for the blast.
A case was registered in police station Uri against unknown people but twelve years down the line, killers of a dozen persons, many of whom succumbed to injuries in hospitals, are untraced and might be roaming scot free.
A witness of the incident Fayaz Ahmad said that Muzafar Beigh had blamed a senior police officer who was the close relative of the then Uri legislator Taj Mohiuddin.
All that the ruling party did for the slain civilians was to install a memorial at Uri with names of the civilians carved in black stone. The compensation of Rs 1 lakh and a government job to one of the family members under SRO 43 was provided. “More than the compensation, we wanted the culprits to be brought to book but no progress was made on that front,” lamented Rather.
“Mehbooba Mufti is now the chief minister of the state. She is the eye-witness of the Uri carnage. We expect her to announce fresh inquiry into the incident and bring the culprits to book,” Mukhtar Ahmad, a resident of Uri town told Kashmir Reader.
Participants who died in Uri rally
Firdous Ahmad Rather, Rohama Rafiabad
Parvaiz Ahmad Rather, Sheeri Baramulla
Mohammad Maqbool Bhat, Chandosa Kandi Baramulla
Mirza Rayees Ahmad Beigh, Latifabad Baramulla
Javid Ahmad Kar, Mohla Rashad Baramulla
Abdul Khaliq, Shahdara Uri
Abid Hussain, Kamalkot Uri
Bashir Ahmad Pandith, Hajibal Tangmarg
Parvaiz Ahmad Beigh, Kralwath Tangmarg
Jaleel Ahmad Beigh, Nilosa Uri
Manzoor Ahmad, Seer Jagir Sopore
Abdul Rashid Bhat, Hari Watan Tangmarg