Srinagar, March 21 (KMS): In Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir, Indian agencies through killers associated with Hindu extremist organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) carried out the massacre of 35 innocent Sikhs in Chittisinghpora area of Islamabad district on March 20, 2000.
A report by Kashmir Media Service based interviews of representatives of different Sikh organizations including Sikh Intellectuals Circle J&K, International Sikh Federation, Sikh Students Federation, J&K Sikh Council, Sikh Youths of J&K and lawyer bodies and confessions by even Indian army’s officers like Lt. Gen. KS Gill revealed that the Chittisinghpora and other such massacres were perpetrated by Indian agencies through Hindutva killer gangs to malign the freedom movement in Kashmir.
The Sikh interviewees, as per the report, pointed out that the timing of Chittisinghpora massacre was important as it was carried out on the eve of the visit of the-then US President Bill Clinton to India.
The interviewees said that earlier, Indian agencies succeeded in persuading the Pandit community to leave the valley in order to communalize the Kashmir dispute, globally. Instead of offering protection to the Pandits, the Indian government issued advisories asking them to quit the Kashmir valley, and facilitated their departure. In order ot hide the reality, the Indian government has denied to investigate the Pandit migration from the valley despite repeated demands.
After Pandits, the Indian agencies advised their RSS agents to target the Sikh community.
On March 20, 2000, 30-40 heavily armed men entered the Chittsinghpora village, located in Islamabad district and ordered all the Sikh men to assemble at the local gurdwara. The gunmen systematically shot and killed 35 of them.
After the incident, the then Indian Home Minister LK Advani made a so-called offer for migration to the IIOJK Sikh population, which was outright rejected by the Sikh leadership, saying that the Muslim majority had not been hostile to them and that they felt protected in the valley.
The lone survivor of Chittisinghpora, Nanak Singh, said, “They [RSS killers] were calling each other with the names Pawan, Bansi, Bahadur and they left while shouting ‘Jai Hind’.
The report cited Indian Army’s retired Lt Gen KS Gill who in 2017 was part of the investigation, to have said in an interview to Sikh News Express, that the Indian Army was involved in the massacre and the report had been submitted to Indian Home Minister L.K. Advani.
After the Chittisinghpora massacre, five labourers were abducted by Indian army and were killed in a fake encounter in Pathribal area of Islamabad district claiming that they were mujahideen who killed Sikhs in Chittishingpora on 25th March 2000. However, later the investigation proved that Indian Army’s 7 Rashtriya Rifles staged the fake encounter drama.
On 14th February, 2003, investigations into Pathribal fake encounter handed over to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
On 9th May 2006, CBI concluded the investigation and filed a charge sheet against five personnel of 7 RR, while accepting that others were also involved. DNA analysis done under CBI proved that the five men were the ones who were abducted from their homes before the fake encounter. The CBI also found facts challenging the army’s claim that the encounter was genuine, that while the bodies of the victims were burnt beyond recognition, their ‘hideout’ place was not.
While the CBI also proved the encounter was fake and the army was at fault. The Indian army who not only failed to cooperate in the investigation asked the case to be transferred to army court. The army in Kashmir, enjoys immunity under Armed Forces Special Powers Act, and cannot be charged any civil court including the Supreme Court. And, as usual army closed the matter stating lack of evidence and the culprits were freed once again and justice was denied.
Several petitions were filed by the family members and the report from several local bodies seeking the report from the army. There was also a petition filed challenging the Army’s decision to close the case. But every time a petition was filed, it was rejected stating that army had the option to close the case, and justice was denied.
On 27th July 2016, the family approached Indian Supreme Court again and filed a petition stating all the problematic aspects of the investigation and how AFSPA has helped army to avoid punishment for such criminal offences committed by them.
Over two decades have passed, the families of victims of Chattisinghpora, Pathribal and Barakpora massacres still seek justice.