SRINAGAR: At least 23 Kashmiri Pandits were gunned down by ‘unknown gunmen’ on January 25, 1998 in Central Kashmir’s Wandhama hamlet of Ganderbal district.
One of the survivors, Vinod Kumar Dhar said that the unknown gunmen came to their house donning army uniform, 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 Pandit households and then summarily gunned them down with AK-47 assault rifles.
Chairman Public Service Commission S.L.Bhat who was then Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir said that soon after the unfortunate incident he visited the village. “What I saw was horrible. Everywhere there were dead bodies lying on the ground and some of them were charred,” he said adding that one house had been put on fire by unknown gunmen.
Bhat said that he does not know whether any probe had taken place or not to expose the culprits. The massacre sparked violent protests in Indian capital New Delhi where a Pandit organization ‘Panun Kashmir’ clashed with police outside the office of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
Till date, the investigation into the massacre has not been completed. On the same day in 1990, January 25, Security personnel from 131 Battalion of Border Security Forece (BSF) killed at least 55 people in North Kashmir’s Handwara town. A policeman and a hawker was among those killed in BSF firing. However, as per police record only 11 people were killed while 52 were wounded.
Chairman International Forum for Justice, Ahsan Untoo told CNS that unconfirmed reports claimed that 55 people died in BSF firing while so far, “only 17 families approached his organization for justice.”
“There is an FIR vide number 10/1990 stands registered against BSF in police station Handwara. I had filed a petition vide number 30/2012 in State Human Rights Commission about the incident and the Commission after investigating the matter issued a notice to Union of India and other top police and administrative officials of the State. So far the Commission has not given any verdict about this massacre,” he added. (CNS)