Thursday, September 26, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Chitisinghpora’s heart cold on poll eve
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chitisinghpora, (Anantnag), September 25
In the heat of campaigning for the third phase of elections on October 1, the heart of Chitisinghpora remains cold. Located 70 km south of Srinagar, this village has not yet recovered from the scars of March 20, 2000 when gunmen in Army fatigues massacred 35 Sikhs. Ever since that fateful Holi day, the people of this sleepy Shangas village have not lived a day of peace. And with their wounds, still festering, they don’t think they ever will.

When The Tribune revisited Chitisinghpora on the eve of elections in Anantnag, it discovered that nothing had changed in the favour of the wronged families. The village is as cut off from the outside world as it was on the night of March 20, 2000, when seven injured men lay on the road, awaiting help. Ms Jeet Kaur, the inconsolable mother who lost both her sons Sartaj and Kulbir, recalls, “I remember how Sartaj died. He had sustained bullet injuries but he was alive for two hours before death cornered him. There was no way we could tell the world what was happening to us. The killers had deflated the tyres of the only vehicle in the village. They had killed the driver. They stood guard at all exit points. We could have saved our sons had the government provided us with any telephone connection. We saw our sons bleed to death, as the killers played Holi with colours and blood.”

Hurt by the apathy of the state government, the villagers now don’t want to vote at all. The government means nothing to them. Not one villager came out to listen to the PDP’s Mehbooba Mufti, who was at Chitisinghpora for her campaigning today. Said Ms Kanwal Kaur, who lost her brothers, “For all these years, they never came. Now they have come begging for votes. Tell them we don’t need sympathy. We have survived the death of family members. We will survive their indifference also.”

Unable to garner listeners, Mehbooba had to return disappointed.

Despite loss of human life, the village still has no phone connection. The only difference is that whereas in 2000, there was no Army deployment, now there is a CRPF company guarding the village. The rest of the situation is the same.

The villagers detest the government, which washed its hands off by paying Rs 1 lakh and giving a job to some affected people. Said Mr Nanak Singh, who lost two sons and a grandson, “Money did not reach the right people. Everyone did not get job.” 

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