1998 Wandhama massacre

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The 1998 Wandhama killings refers to the murder of 23 Kashmiri Pandit Hindus in the town of Wandhama 34°14′55″N 74°44′00″E / 34.2486°N 74.7333°E / 34.2486; 74.7333Coordinates: 34°14′55″N 74°44′00″E / 34.2486°N 74.7333°E / 34.2486; 74.7333[1] in Jammu and Kashmir on 25 January 1998.[2] The victims included four children, nine women and 10 men.[3] The attackers also demolished a Hindu temple and a house.[citation needed] The Lashkar-e-Taiba was blamed for perpetrating the massacre.[4]

Background[edit]

1998 Wandhama massacre is located in India
Wandhama
Wandhama
Location of attack.

Wandhama is a small town near Ganderbal in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The state had a minority population of Hindu Kashmiri Pandits, over a half of a million of whom fled from the Kashmir valley to the Hindu-majority region of Jammu after militancy erupted in Kashmir.[5][6] The Wandhama Pandits consisted of Pandits who chose to remain in their homeland despite the rise in violence, as well as those Pandits who returned to the region from refugee camps in Jammu.[citation needed]

The Massacre[edit]

On 25 January 1998, 23 Kashmiri Pandits living in the village of Wandhama were killed by unidentified gunmen. According to the testimony of one of the survivors of the incident, a 14-year-old Hindu boy named Vinod Kuman Dhar, the gunmen came to their house dressed like Indian Army soldiers, had tea with them, waiting for a radio message indicating that all Pandit families in the village had been covered. After a brief conversation they rounded up all the members of the Hindu households and then summarily gunned them down with Kalashnikov rifles.[7] The massacre was allegedly committed by Abdul Hamid Gada of the Hizbul Mujahideen and was timed to coincide with the Shab-e-Qadar, the holiest night of the month of Ramzan, when believers stay awake until dawn.[8] Gada was subsequently shot dead by Indian security forces in 2000.[9] After the massacre, the local Hindu temple was destroyed, as were the houses of the Pandits.[citation needed]

Reactions[edit]

The Kashmiri Pandit (Hindu) community all over the world reacted with shock and outrage at the incident. All prominent Pandit organisations asked the Centre to dismiss the Farooq Abdullah government in Jammu and Kashmir and demanded a fresh look into their "rehabilitation".[citation needed]

The day after the incident, agitating Kashmiri Pandits clashed with police in the Capital, New Delhi, when they broke barricades and tried to force their way to the National Human Rights Commission. At least 11 Kashmiri Pandits were injured when they were hit by water cannon.[citation needed]

Indian Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral joined the mourners in Kashmir's Wandhama village on 28 January. The Prime Minister was accompanied by Governor General K V Krishna Rao, Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah and Union Minister for Environment Saifuddin Soz. He said:[citation needed]

I have come here to express my grief on behalf of the nation. The people of Punjab had unitedly defeated the nefarious designs of the enemy. The people of Kashmir will also defeat the designs.

There were protests in several refugee camps where Kashmiri Pandits have been interred since their ethnic cleansing.[10]

Local law enforcement authorities have been criticized for being dysfunctional in protecting the minority Hindus in Kashmir.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]