Sopore massacre

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The "Sopore Massacre" refers to the alleged killing of 55 Kashmiri civilians by the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) after militants ambushed a BSF patrol,[1] in the town of Sopore in Kashmir on 6 January 1993.[2]

Background[edit]

Sopore is a major town in Kashmir within the Baramulla District. It is 50 km (31 mi) north-west from Srinagar. Mainly known for its apples, Sopore has been a major trading center in Kashmir. Iqbal market is the main market of the town. Eight km (5 miles) from Sopore is the famous Wular lake, the largest fresh water lake in South Asia.

The massacre[edit]

On the morning of 6 January 1993 when a group of 7–8 armed JKLF militants attacked a platoon of Border Security Force soldiers at Baba Yousuf Lane near Sopore and killing at least one.[2][3] It was alleged that after this the Indian troops fired at local residents and set fire to local homes and businesses.[1] Witnesses claim that Indian troops attacked a public coach killing the driver and at least 15 passengers as well as attacking and burning three other cars. Some residents were burnt alive as Indian troops set fire to their homes and businesses.[2] In all, official Indian Government reports state that 250 shops and 50 homes were burnt down although Kashmiri sources claim as many as 450 buildings were burnt down.[1] International news agencies reported:

"The Border Security Forces sprayed a public coach with machine-gun fire, killing the driver and more than 15 passengers, said witnesses. Three other cars were also fired on, and then the paramilitary forces set the vehicles ablaze. Next, they began herding the native Kashmiris into shops and houses, said witnesses. Then the security forces shot them, splashed paraffin over the bodies and set the buildings alight." [1]

Response[edit]

The Indian government initially claimed that the high civilian casualties were the result of an intense gun battle between the BSF soldiers and militants in which an explosives cache belonging to the militants exploded and spread the fire to nearby buildings.[1] However, the government was later prompted to initiate a judicial inquiry into the matter and was also forced to suspend several BSF officers due to the widespread publicity that the incident had generated.[2]

One day after the massacre, thousands of Kashmiris defying a government-imposed curfew, protested against the actions of the BSF soldiers on the streets of Sopore.[3] The then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao, ordered state governor Girish Saxena to visit Sopore and announced a compensation of £2,275 for the relatives of the deceased.[1] However, Muslim leaders, left-wing politicians and Human Rights organisations have criticised Saxena for failing to stop human rights violations by the security forces in Kashmir and demanded a parliamentary delegation be sent to assess the destruction.[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g MCGIRK, TIM (8 January 1993). "Outcry in Delhi over Kashmir massacre". The Independent (UK). Retrieved 10 April 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d "India – Human Rights Developments". Human Rights Watch. 
  3. ^ a b "Blood Tide Rising". TIME Magazine. 18 January 1993.