Chittisinghpura massacre

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Chittisinghpura massacre
Location Chittisinghpura, Anantnag district, Jammu and Kashmir, India
Date 20 March 2000
Target Sikhs
Attack type
Mass murder, spree shooting
Deaths 36
Perpetrators Lashkar-e-Toiba

The Chittisinghpura massacre (Hindi: छत्तीसिंहपुरा क़त्ल) refers to the shooting to death of 36 Sikhs on 20 March 2000, in the Anantnag district of the State of Jammu and Kashmir in India.[1][2][3] The Indian government asserts that it was conducted by the Islamic Fundamentalist militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba which is based in Muridke in Pakistan and is listed on U.S. State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations[4] Mohammad Suhail Malik of Sialkot, Pakistan confessed while in custody about participating in the massacre at the direction of Lashkar-e-Toiba in an interview with Barry Bearak of The New York Times although Bearak questioned the authenticity of the confession.[5] Suhail Malik is a nephew of Hafiz Muhammad Saeed of Lashkar-e-Toiba.[5] He was however later acquitted of these charges by a Delhi court.[6] Some other observers like Bruce Riedel have also attributed this massacre to Lashkar-e-Taiba.[7][8]

The Killings[edit]

Wearing Indian Army fatigues to avoid detection,[9] the killers came into the village in two groups at separate ends of the village where the two Gurdwaras were located. They first lined up the Sikhs, who had been celebrating the Holi and Hola Mahalla Festival, in front of their Gurdwaras and opened fire. 36 people were killed.

The sole survivor of the massacre was Nanak Singh, who was first saved by falling under someone who had been shot and then was wounded in the pelvis. Lying still and managing not to scream, which would have revealed his being alive, he recalled hearing the terrorists laughing over their deeds while sending a 'mission accomplished' message over their walkie-talkie. His sons Gurmeet Singh (16) and brother Darbari Singh (30) and three first cousins were among the dead. His oldest son was away at the time.

The Sikhs were singled out for the massacre, the village also had many Muslim and Hindus. Some of the Sikh widows spoke of their husbands being called out by name.

The village did not have a telephone, some boys who came on the scene had to run 7 km, over a mud road, to reach a phone and summon help.

Aftermath[edit]

The killings of 36 Sikhs was a turning point in the Kashmir issue, where Sikhs had usually been spared from militant violence.[10] After the massacre hundreds of Kashmiri Sikhs gathered in the village shouting anti Pakistan and anti Muslim slogans and criticizing Indian government for failing to protect the villagers.[11] Sikh protesters shouting "blood for blood" marched to the seat of Jammu-Kashmir government to demand retaliation against Pakistan-based Muslim militants.[12]

The villagers ensured that the local school was up and running just two weeks after the killings. The massacre created tension and distrust between the Sikh and Muslim residents of the area, but no problems developed at the joint Muslim-Sikh village school. After the massacre the residents of the village pointed the police to Mohammad Yakub Magray as one of the suspects.[13]

In 2005, Sikh organizations such as the Bhai Kanahiya Jee Nishkam Seva Society demanded a deeper state inquiry into the details of the massacre[14] and for the inquiry to be made public. The state government ordered an inquiry into the massacre. A day after the inquiry was ordered, NDTV special correspondent Barkha Dutt went to the village.

Commenting on this massacre Patricia Scotland, Baroness Scotland of Asthal responding to a call for international inquiry into the incident by Nazir Ahmed, Baron Ahmed said that violence will never solve Kashmir problems and rejected the call for international inquiry.[15]

Clinton Controversy[edit]

The massacre coincided with the visit of United States president Bill Clinton to India. In an introduction to a book written by Madeleine Albright titled The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God, and World Affairs (2006), he accused "Hindu Militants" of perpetrating the act. This error created a major incident, with both Hindu and Sikh groups expressing outrage at the inaccuracy. Clinton's office did not return calls seeking comment or clarification. In the hours immediately after the massacre in March 2000, the US condemned the killings but refused to accept the Indian government's accusation that it was the work of Pakistani Islamist groups. The publishers, Harper Collins routed a correction through Albright's office. In a public statement they acknowledged the mistake.[16]

Page xi of the Mighty and the Almighty contains a reference to Hindu militants that will be deleted in subsequent printings, both in America and in international editions. This error was due to a failure in the fact-checking process.[16]

Chittisinghpura massacre in film[edit]

The massacre was depicted in the commercial Bollywood film Adharm (unholy) directed by Adeep Singh.

David Headley's confession[edit]

In 2010, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) associate David Headley, who was arrested in connection with the 2008 Mumbai attacks, reportedly confessed to the National Investigation Agency that the LeT carried out the Chittisinghpura massacre.[17] He is said to have identified an LeT militant named Muzzamil as part of the group which carried out the killings apparently to create communal tension just before Clinton’s visit.[18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kashmir killings overshadow Clinton visit, BBC, 2000-03-21
  2. ^ Massacre of 36 Sikhs overshadows Clinton's tour, The Independent, 2000-03-22
  3. ^ http://www.frontline.in/static/html/fl1707/17070340.htm
  4. ^ Killing of Sikhs clouds Clinton visit to India, The Guardian, 200-03-22
  5. ^ a b Bearak, Barry (2000-12-31), "A Kashmiri Mystery", The New York Times, retrieved 2009-11-04, "The conversation was mostly in Urdu, once again a language I did not speak. I could study his eyes but not his phrasing or inflections, the little clues as to what was being held back in the privacy of his head. When we left, I asked Surinder Oberoi, my journalist friend, if he thought Malik was telling the truth. "Yes, I think so," he answered after a pause. Then he added a cautionary shrug and a sentence that stopped after the words "But you know. . . . " Malik showed no signs of physical abuse, but, as with Wagay, the torture of someone in his situation would not be unusual. Once, over a casual lunch, an Indian intelligence official told me that Malik had been "intensively interrogated." I asked him what that usually meant. "You start with beatings, and from there it can go almost anywhere," he said. Certainly, I knew what most Pakistanis would say of the confession -- that the teenager would admit to anything after persistent electrical prodding by the Indians. And it left me to surmise that if his interrogators had made productive use of pain, was it to get him to reveal the truth or to repeat their lies?" 
  6. ^ Sikhs' massacre in Chattisinghpora: Two Pakistanis acquitted. "The Times of India," 10 August 2011.
  7. ^ Terrorism in India and the Global Jihad],, Brookings Institution, "LeT has been linked to numerous terrorist attacks in India including the massacre of dozens of Sikhs in Kashmir in March 2000 during President Clinton’s visit to India, bombings in New Delhi in 2005 and bombings in Varanasi and Mumbai in 2006," 
  8. ^ LET militants in 2000 massacred 35 Sikhs in the village of Chittisinghpura,Hicks facing Indian probe over Kashmir shooting, The Australian, 2007-02-10
  9. ^ Death in Disguise, India Today, 2000-04-03
  10. ^ 34 Massacred In Sikh Town In Kashmir, The New York Times, 2000-03-21
  11. ^ Slaughter in Singhpora, TIME, 2000-04-03
  12. ^ "Man arrested in connection with Sikh massacre". The Independent. 23 March 2000. Retrieved 27 October 2010. 
  13. ^ The massacre at Chattisinghpora, Frontline (magazine), 2000-04-01
  14. ^ Sikhs want CBI probe into Chittisinghpura Massacre, tribuneindia.com
  15. ^ 'We were appalled by the massacre of Sikhs on 20 March. Violence will never bring a solution to the situation in Kashmir. We welcome the state authorities' decision to launch a judicial inquiry into the massacre. We look forward to seeing the results of the inquiry'Kashmir: Massacre of Sikhs
  16. ^ a b Clinton goofs up on J&K killings,Times of India
  17. ^ Lashkar behind Sikh massacre in Kashmir in 2000, says Headley. Hindustan Times. 25 October 2010.
  18. ^ Chittisinghpura Massacre: Obama’s proposed visit makes survivors recall tragedy . The Tribune, Chandigarh. 25 October 2010.

See also[edit]