Dastard Pahalgam Massacre of August 2000

            The Pahalgam incident of Aug 2000 drew international attention to the sadist violence, indulged in by the “Mujahids” against the innocent people- yatris, religious preachers. It explicitly points out the prejudices of terrorists for other regions. The major instance of religious intolerance from the side of separatist nexus and their gunmen faction. Though the Kashmir has got messed up in multiple versions of the same incident. However, policeman on duty identified them, one was from a Pahalgam village and other from Anantnag. But, one thing is common among the eye-witnesses said that the two bearded killers of 22 Amarnath pilgrims, 6 local civilians and 2 policemen, danced triumphantly while choosing death for themselves too. ”Their height was moderate and complexion whitish as is the case with the Kashmiris”. Fake identity cards and the new recruitment drive by LeT and Jaish-devil acts is the proxy-war in Kashmir. A plans to backstage Kashmir from the path of prosperity and development that other states of the country were going in the same period.

            Two youngsters-sporting beard, wearing olive green jackets and brandishing AK-47 rifles-emerged out of the jungle at around 1845 hours on Tuesday evening and began the massacre of pilgrims from a wooden culvert, called Manzim Bridge. The stream beneath , often seen in Bollywood movies of Rajesh Khanna, Asha Parekh period, was in spade. They sprayed bullets in all directions, stormed into a Meerut Langar, and finally took position on a metalled road on the left bank of Nullah Aru. After leaving a total of 30 dead and over 60 others Wounded, the assailants tossed seven grenades on the beautiful hutment of Hari Singh, the commanding officer of CRPF 61 Bn.”

            Another eye witness explained the act of violence as, “the terrorists reached the bridge, they opened indiscriminate fire, hitting a women in the leg. Then they ran towards the CRPF picket, firing indiscriminately at yatris and shopkeepers. In this torrential rain of bullets that lasted for about 25 minutes, thirteen yatris and shopkeepers were killed on the spot. The next destination of terrorists was the adjoining meerut Bhandar, where 900 yatris from Meerut were camping. Two grenades were tossed at a tent, Killing one yatri and injuring four others. As terrorists approached the camp, a BSF constable opened fire and scared them away. Terrorists were running and firing towards the camp on both sides of the road. A man, hit by a bullet on the bridge fell down into the Lidder stream flowing below.”

            The grenades tossed at the CRPF picket damaged a car standing there Meanwhile CO was contacted at his office but he failed it reach the spot due to heavy gunfire at his home. Sentry SC Choudhary engaged the terrorists and in the fierce encounter that followed, he felled down one, who had hid behind a car and a massive rock. The other militant, 100 yards away on the Aru road was gunned by a BSF soldier. “Calm prevailed but only after the duo danced while crying that they had accomplished their mission”.

            Prem Lata, a teacher from Ludhiana who saw the terrorists, wearing police uniform and firing indiscriminately alleged that the terrorists were selectively killing pilgrims only. She took cover in her bus the wind screen of which was damaged as the killers emptied their volley of bullets. Baba Naresh of Gujrat, another eyewitness claimed terrorists killed a Baba after entering his tent. Ravinder Kumar of Haryana said near Meerut Langer, where terrorist brandished their concealed weapons, a barber and his customers were the first targets. “A broken mirror, a blood drenched cap and the splattered blood on the spot gave the idea of their act”. Firing on the moving pilgrims, they moved towards the small bridge.  After crossing it, they entered the area where the Langer and tents were set up. There a heavy exchange of fire took place between the terrorists and security forces, leading to the killing of some pilgrims and local labourers in the cross-firing. However, the terrorists managed to escape from the area.

            Poonam Gayal from Meerut received three bullets in her leg and abdomen. Both her daughter and husband were injured, while her, missing son was presumably dead. Aravind Kumar Verma had multiple fractures in his left leg. Arun Kumar of Delhi, who ran a Langar said the terrorists held AK-47 rifles and one of them even changed his magazine while killing yatris.

            Kuldeep Kumar, driver of a bus damaged in the firing was hit by a bullet in the leg. He said that one of the terrorists firing from under the bus finally came out and was killed by a CRPF jawan. Around four thousand yatris were camping in Pahalgam at the time of attack. Ram Sahagal, a pilgrim from Delhi said the terrorists, as they engaged in indiscriminate firing roamed freely in a radius of about half a km. Bharath Sharma, a travel agency owner of Agra, told reporters that “the terrorists began firring from a hill top and also from underneath a bus”. One of Sikh Sewadars was hit by a burst of automatic fire standing beside him, collapsed in a pool of blood.

            The prompt response by paramilitary personnel killed two terrorists, while another escaped in a maruti van. He was also wearing police uniform. As the bullets rained all around, people scrambled under the parked vehicles or took shelter under the trees along the Lidder bank. CRPF personnel were seen advising yatris to remain calm. Many other managed to escape in waiting vehicles. A large number of vehicles, including cars and buses, also showed marks of the indiscriminate firing. While many glass panes stood broken, tyres were punctured due to the impacts of bullets. The bodies of the pilgrims and other civilians were removed by security forces men and pilgrims during the night itself while the “unclaimed bodies” of the terrorists were kept at the police station.

            The survivors with nightmarish experiences recalled the good job done by Srinagar doctors and Army, BSF and CRPF. They were bitter against JKP and said the state police looked the other way when terrorists struck.

            The Hindu, quoted a pilgrim as saying, “After the massacre, their personnel prevented us from helping the injured and taking them to hospital. Instead of helping the victims, they kept saying, “if you for the yatra, you’ll meet the face”. A senior officer of CRPF claimed that terrorists had hurled five grenades, used 19 magazines and fired 570 rounds 0f AK fire and 57 live bullets were recovered from the slain terrorists. Later, a three-members committee headed by corps commander of the Srinagar-based 15 corps, JR Mukherjee had been appointed to probe the Pahalgam killings. The other members of the committee include Messers C Phunsung, Home secretary and GA peer, Deputy Commissioner, Anantnag.

            The inhumane incident backed by the Pakistan and its nexus shown no value for the human rights, killing innocent religious preachers for their only cause of visiting their place of devotion. Such incidents are rotten stains on the face of so called romanticized terrorists, who had always been the cause for the misery and destabilization of peace and normalcy in the valley of Jammu and Kashmir. It had hid badly on the larger side of the economy- tourism which is the major source of the income and employment generation. The new economic ventures had been stuck in between due to these incidents of religious intolerance; violence pushed and supported by the terror factory. It thus proves the intentions of the Pakistan absolutely wrong; which they read as support for Kashmir. All Kashmiris should read and research about these incidents of utter violence that demolished the economy and employment generation avenues till the inception of these dastard attacks.

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