Friday, January 25, 2008

10th anniversary of Wandhama Massacre

It was a night when most men in Kashmir were in prayer. On this fateful night when Shab-e-Qadar was being observed in Kashmir, a group of terrorists killed 24 Kashmiri Pandits-men, women and children in place called Wandhama (a small village near Ganderbal, Srinagar). Even sucklers weren't spared. It has been 10 years now. While GoI, Courts, Human Rights Bodies and Civil society did everything possible tobring justice to the victims of Bilkis Bano case, I am afraid no attempts have been made to provide justice to the victims of this case. My fingers tremble on my key board, I am sorry but for once I can cry and not write. My beloved nation deserves kudos for treating Pandits in the way it has.

I am ashamed of belonging to a country in which justice is the privelege of Muslims alone.


Etalaat Newspaper of J&K writes:

Jan 25: Day of massacres in JK's bloodied history

1998: 23 Pandits massacred at Wandhama

Javed Shah

Srinagar, Jan24: Ten years after unidentified assailants wiped out 23 Kashmiri Pandits at Wandhama hamlet of Ganderbal district, police has failed to trace the killers and closed the file. It was the night of January 25, 1998 (Holy month of Ramadan was on) when the gunmen targeted the Pandits who had stayed put her. The victims had resisted the mass migration of Pandits in early 90s and decided to stay put here despite odds.

The incident sparked anger and shock across the Valley. The Hurriyat Conference had observed a protest strike demanding an enquiry by Amnesty International and other global groups into the incident. The pro-freedom groups had blamed New Delhi and the state government for the massacre.After the incident, fear psychosis gripped the Pandit community in the Valley, leading to migration of many more Pandit families from Kashmir.

Manoj Kumar Dhar, a 16-year-old boy was the lone eyewitness of the incident. In a statement to police, he said a group of masked gunmen barged into his house at about 11:30 pm and forced the inmates to come out. "I jumped out of the wall of my house. As soon as my father, brothers and sisters came out, I saw the gunmen shooting them one-by-one. They were crying and begging for life,” he had told the police.

"One of the gunmen spotted me and asked me to come out but I hid myself beneath a heap of saw dust stored in the house. They then opened fire from all sides of the house and probably thought I too was killed in the firing. I cannot identify them but they were speaking Urdu," Manjor said.

The village Muslim men were in the mosques observing Shab-e-Qadir. Police recorded statements from them. "We came to know about the killings only when our women came wailing," Abdul Ahad, a villager told the police.

The police later claimed they’d recovered a letter in which an unknown organization “Intikaam-ul-Muslimoon” had claimed responsibility for the killing of Pandits. The letter was tagged to one of the bullet-ridden bodies.Sub-Divisional police officer Ganderbal Showkat Ahmad, who was then Station Hose Officer of the area told etala’at that “the case has been untraced as no one was identified as the killer of the Pandits."

Monday, January 21, 2008

US Congressman writes to PM Manmohan Singh on Pandit's Plight

U.S. Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) today drafted a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India asking his government to help safeguard the properties of Kashmiri Pandits in the state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K). An insurgent uprising in 1989 resulted in the mass exodus of over 350,000 Kashmiri Hindu minorities, or Pandits, from their ancestral homes in the valley of Kashmir. The insurgency quickly degenerated into an Islamic terrorist struggle with support from several international terrorist organizations.
Congressman Pallone was contacted by many of his constituents who were concerned about the unilateral acquisition of their ancestral lands by the J&K government.
Pallone in his letter indicated concern for what the Government of India is doing to adequately rehabilitate the Pandits. “Not much help has been provided to remaining Pandits in Kashmir by the State government or the civil society, and even those that remain, most are starting to leave the valley.” Pallone continued, “The situation is further exacerbated by J&K government’s efforts to appropriate lands owned by Pandits when instead Pandits should be encouraged to retain their lands and even expand their land holdings. In fact, the State government could facilitate return of Pandits, who are state subjects, by encouraging them to buy land in the valley through attractive financing.”
Following is the copy of the letter (please click to enlarge) :

Hindustan Times

US Congressman Frank Pallone