Monday, April 3, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

More massacres apprehended
Tribune News Service

JAMMU, April 2 —Amid diminishing anger but continued shock over the killing of 35 Sikhs in Anantnag district of South Kashmir, people, irrespective of the religion they belong to, are not prepared to treat Chatti Singhpora carnage as the end of the tunnel as far as the plan of targeting soft targets is concerned.

An interview with a cross-section of the people, including those belonging to the higher echelons of the security and intelligence agencies, indicates that for the Pakistani agencies carrying out massacres of innocent people is a three-pronged strategy.

It helps them to carry out what is usually called ‘ethnic cleansing’ so as to ensure that the militants did not find any problem in establishing their hideouts. Secondly, it allows the militants a bigger scope for instilling fear among the people who would not dare to cooperate with the security agencies. Thirdly, such massacres are used to focus international attention on the Kashmir issue and keep the security agencies on tenterhooks besides causing economic bleeding to India. The Chatti Singhpora massacre would have by now cost the government at least Rs 50 lakh which includes Rs 35 lakh as ex-gratia payment and the rest on the establishment of a security picket and on travel expenses to the site of the carnage by VIPs.

Although the Chatti Singhpora massacre evoked worldwide condemnation and incited the Sikh leaders in Punjab, the anger and shock over the earlier carnage had not forced the militants to halt such a “barbaric” exercise. The result has been that one massacre has followed another at regular intervals.

It was on August 14, 1993, that Doda district witnessed the first massacre when 17 Hindus were made to alight from a bus at Sarthal and killed. It was followed by Chapnari and scores of other carnage in different parts of the state and several of the massacres were significantly carried out on Fridays.

Government reports indicate that during the past seven years, more than 26 massacres have been carried out, most of them in Doda district. And over 300 persons have been killed in these incidents which include Prankot and Dhakikot, Wandhama, Sangrampora, Chamba, Prem Nagar, Swari and Gool. In Chamba also the militants killed 35 labourers.

One thing strange behind these killings is that Pakistani agencies have tried their best to put the blame on security forces in these massacres. They had failed earlier and also in the case of Chatti Singhpora carnage. In the earlier stages of the incident, even many pro-India leaders had harboured misgivings about the involvement of the militants and their view was possibly affected by the massive

campaign the Pakistani electronic and print media launched to malign the security forces. It was ultimately the affected families of Sikhs in Chatti Singhpora who gave a lie to the Pakistani propaganda forcing several top Akali leaders, including Mr Simranjeet Singh Mann, to revise their stand on the issue.

It is only in the Mora Bachai carnage, where 19 civilians were killed, that a secret probe has confirmed that militants had not indulged in the massacre.

If the reports received by the security agencies from across the border are any indication, one fears more such massacres in different parts of the state in the near future. It may not be the Sikhs in the future, but other communities face a severe threat.

Reports from different intelligence agencies indicate a flare up in violence during the ensuing Moharram and Baisakhi. It is in this context that the state government has strengthened security arrangements in the Shia-dominated areas to prevent militants from committing any mischief which could have far-reaching consequences.

There is no denying the fact that the Chatti Singhpora carnage proved counter-productive for Pakistan. At the same time, agencies across the border may not hesitate in directing foreign mercenaries to carry out eliminations of other minority ethnic groups which may not kick up as much controversy as the Chatti Singhpora incident generated.

These reports have revealed that Pakistani agencies may revive their plan of forcing minorities to leave the Muslim-dominated Poonch, Rajouri and Doda districts. Whether they carry out their plan or not depends on the final decision of the Sikhs living in Kashmir. If the Sikhs stick to their commitment on staying put, Pakistani agencies may have to think twice before they resort to killing of minorities in other areas of the state. Back

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