Friday, June 20,2008
NEW DELHI: Ten years have passed but the Union home ministry says it does not have any details on the Wandhama massacre in which 23 people were killed, reportedly by terrorists, in Jammu and Kashmir. The home ministry’s surprising reply came in response to an application under the Right to Information Act about the 1998 killings.The home ministry merely claims it was aware of the Wandhama massacre in the reply to Mr Aditya Raj Kaul, a Kashmiri activist based in Delhi. The ministry has not answered questions on details of the victims and the terrorists involved in the attack. The applicant had sought to know the names of those killed, their gender, age, and the time and day of the massacre. None of these were provided by the ministry. Asked about follow-up action by the local police after the massacre, the home ministry replied: "This information is not available with the Central government."It repeated the same answer when asked what prevented the local police from making further progress while remaining silent on whether the local police had closed the case.The ministry has replied "No" to a question on whether there was any move to hand over the case to the CBI or any other investigating agency. The ministry also said that the applicant should seek information about the massacre from the Jammu and Kashmir government, which is the right authority, but added that the Central act on Right to Information is not applicable to Jammu and Kashmir.The Wandhama massacre took place on the eve of Republic Day in 1998. The J&K media recently quoted the SHO of Wandhama as saying the case had been closed as the perpetrators of the massacre could not be traced.
Priyanka Sarkar New Delhi
Even after more than a decade, the scar of the Wandhama massacre is still afresh in the mind and soul of Kashmiri Hindus. On the occasion of World Refugee Day in Kashmir, a frontline group of the Kashmiri Pundits presented an audio-visual presentation and a panel discussion focusing on the Wandhama Massacre. The panel consisted of eminent personalities from all the spheres including members from the media, Human Rights and Former Director of ITBP.
The panel of guest speakers spoke about negligence done in such case and emphasised the need of making a link of communication with the victims. Media person, Asha Khosa, cited an incident while she was reporting for a national daily. "It was a barbaric scenario that one can cite ever," she said at the panel discussion organised by Roots in Kashmir on Friday evening.
"Life is miserable over there and people are so poor that they can't even move out of that place," she added. After so much of security and high alerts, the question still remains, "Will I ever be able to live my life without the fear of terrorists?" She recounted the horror which has failed to be erased from the minds of victims of the massacre. The panelists including former ITBP director general Gautam Kaul, journalists Tarun Vijay and Asha Khosa discussed on prevention of such attacks in future.
The massacre refers to the murder of Kashmiri Hindus in the town of Wandhama on the intervening night of January 25, 1998. It was one of the worst incidents carried out by militants in Kashmir. It was an illustration of the Kashmir militants policy of ethnic cleansing. The victims, included four children, nine women and ten men. Those who were killed were among the handful of Kashmiri Pundits who had chosen to stay back after the mass evacuation of half a million of their kin due to ethnic cleansing carried out by Pakistan sponsored terrorist in the Kashmir valley in 1989-90.
What however is truly tragic is the fact that the local police have closed the Wandhama Massacre case citing the reason that the killers are untraceable. Sub Divisional police officer Ganderbal Showkat Ahmad who was the then Station House Officer for the area reportedly said, "the case has been closed, as no one was identified as the killer of the Pundits." No one has been convicted for the massacre till date.
Tarun Vijay said that it is time to ponder into the reason as to why such massacres take place. "Instead of just having panel discussions, it is time we should come on board and discuss what needs to be done to prevent such incidents. What is the politics behind it and what are the political pressures. It is only through these efforts that we will be able to give them what they've lost," Vijay said.
Wandhama massacre remembered
NEW DELHI, JUN 20 (PTI)
Marking World Refugee Day, "Roots in Kashmir" a group of Kashmiri Pandits, today organised a panel discussion on the 1998 Wandhama massacre when 23 members of the community were killed by militants.
Panelists including former ITBP director general Gautam Kaul, journalists Tarun Vijay and Asha Khosa discussed on prevention of such attacks in future.
The Wandhama massacre took place on the intervening night of January 25. Twenty-three Pandits were killed by militants.
No one has been convicted for the massacre till date.