Chittisinghpura massacre

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Chittisinghpura massacre
LocationChittisinghpura, Anantnag district, Jammu and Kashmir, India
Date20 March 2000
TargetSikhs
Attack type
Mass murder
Deaths35
PerpetratorsUndetermined

The Chittisinghpura massacre refers to the mass murder of 35 villagers of the Sikh faith that was carried out on 20 March 2000 in the Chittisinghpora village of Anantnag district, Jammu and Kashmir, India.[1][2][3]

The identity of the perpetrators remains unknown. The Indian government asserts that the massacre was conducted by Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba.[4] Other accounts accuse the Indian military of the massacre which took place on the eve of the US president Bill Clinton's state visit to India.[5][6][7]

The killings[edit]

Wearing Indian Army fatigues,[8] the killers arrived into the village in military vehicles in two groups at separate ends of the village where the two gurdwaras were located, while the villagers had been celebrating the Hola Mahalla festival. They ordered them to line up in front of the gurdwaras and opened fire, killing thirty-six people.[6]

A Mohammad Suhail Malik of Sialkot, Pakistan confessed while in Indian custody about participating in the attacks at the direction of Lashkar-e-Taiba in an interview with Barry Bearak of The New York Times although Bearak questioned the authenticity of the confession.[9] Suhail Malik was a nephew of Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, co-founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba.[9] He was however later acquitted of these charges by a Delhi court.[10]

In 2010, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) associate David Headley, who was arrested in connection with the 2008 Mumbai attacks, reportedly informed the National Investigation Agency that the LeT carried out the Chittisinghpura massacre.[11] 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.[12]

Aftermath[edit]

The massacre was a turning point in the Kashmir issue, where Sikhs had usually been spared from militant violence.[13] After the massacre hundreds of Kashmiri Sikhs gathered in Jammu shouting anti Pakistan and anti Muslim slogans, criticsing the Indian government for failing to protect the villagers, and demanding retaliation.[14][15]

Five days after the killing, the Indian army stopped and killed five people near Anantnag, claiming they were the Pakistani perpetrators of the Chittisinghpora massacre. A subsequent government inquiry revealed that they were all local villagers with no relation with the massacre.[16]

In 2005, Sikh organizations such as the Bhai Kanahiya Jee Nishkam Seva Society demanded a deeper state inquiry into the details of the massacre[17] and for the inquiry to be made public. The state government ordered an inquiry into the massacre.

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), she 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. The publishers, Harper Collins routed a correction through Albright's office. In a public statement they acknowledged the mistake.[18]

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.[18]

In popular culture[edit]

The massacre was depicted in a Bollywood film Adharm ("Unholy") directed by Adeep Singh.


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. ^ "The lone survivor: Nanak Singh". Kashmir Life. 26 March 2012. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  6. ^ a b "'Names of killers still reverberate in my ears': 19 years after Chittisinghpora massacre, lone survivor recounts night that killed 35 Sikhs". Firstpost. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  7. ^ "Rift in the valley". The Economist. 24 August 2010. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  8. ^ Death in Disguise[permanent dead link], India Today, 2000-04-03
  9. ^ a b Bearak, Barry (31 December 2000), "A Kashmiri Mystery", The New York Times, retrieved 4 November 2009, 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?
  10. ^ Sikhs' massacre in Chattisinghpora: Two Pakistanis acquitted. "The Times of India," 10 August 2011.
  11. ^ Lashkar behind Sikh massacre in Kashmir in 2000, says Headley Archived 2011-01-14 at the Wayback Machine. Hindustan Times. 25 October 2010.
  12. ^ Chittisinghpura Massacre: Obama’s proposed visit makes survivors recall tragedy . The Tribune, Chandigarh. 25 October 2010.
  13. ^ 34 Massacred In Sikh Town In Kashmir, The New York Times, 2000-03-21
  14. ^ Slaughter in Singhpora, TIME, 2000-04-03
  15. ^ "Man arrested in connection with Sikh massacre". The Independent. 23 March 2000. Retrieved 27 October 2010.
  16. ^ "CNN.com - 'Innocent civilians killed' in Kashmir cover-up - July 16, 2002". edition.cnn.com. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  17. ^ Sikhs want CBI probe into Chittisinghpura Massacre, tribuneindia.com
  18. ^ a b Clinton goofs up on J&K killings,Times of India

See also[edit]