Kupwara: Memories fail to fade about the gory incident carried out of January 27, 1993 when 27 innocent people were killed by army for observing strike on R-Day in this north Kashmir district.
Like many massacre incidents during the two-decades of insurgency in the state, justice continues to elude the family of those killed.
The event was bloodiest in the frontier district after January 25, 1990 when 25 persons were killed by BSF troops in Handwara for protesting carnage in Gawkadal Srinagar on January 21 same year.
Eyewitnesses told a that on the fateful day, obdurate troops of 15 Punjab and Gharwal regiment opened indiscriminate fire on people at main market, leaving 27 of them dead on the spot.
Even after the police registered a case, the troops responsible for the killing continue to roam free.
â€œWe are waiting for justice since then and the murderers are roaming and enjoying impunity,â€ said Nazir Ahmad, a local.
Recalling the fateful day, Mushtaq Ahmad, another local resident, said that troops posted on hilltop overlooking Kupwara town opened fire on locals and continued it for nearly 20 minutes. â€œAs the guns fell silent, there was blood and scattered corpses.â€
The survivors, he said, where not allowed to take injured to hospital or move the bodies. â€œInstead people were asked to assemble in a ground where they were subjected to identification parade,â€ he said. Â â€œAs the identification parade was going on, the people begged personnel of 15 Sikh Li unit to allow them at least lift the bodies but troops with disdain refused and even threatened them of dire consequences.â€
The locals recall that troops didnâ€™t even spared cops as they fired towards a police post near the old bridge.
A forest guard â€“Ghulam Muhammad Mir was also among the victims and people say he was killed for wearing Khaki uniform.
The locals also remember arrest of then CMO who they identified as Abdul Rashid. He had refuted Radio Kashmir report airing official version that people died in cross-firing.
â€œA BBC news report quoted the then CMO Kupwara Abdul Rashid as an eyewitness and had reported facts that army opened fire on locals without any provocation,â€ the locals said. â€œHe was later arrested.â€
The locals allege that the troops fired to avenge the strike observed by people on January 26 as the patrolling party of Punjab regiment had warned the shopkeepers a day earlier of dire consequences if they observed strike on the R-day.
While troops have maintained their claim that civilians were killed during cross firing between militants and the army, police later registered a case. Nothing has come to fore as of yet.