July 1998 News

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Militants Kill 16 Hindus in Doda

28th July 1998

JAMMU: Pakistani terrorists killed sixteen Hindus in Doda district in two seperate incidents, according to a TV news report. Earlier PTI said, militants struck in the wee hours today gunning down eight Hindus, including two women in a village in Jammu's Doda district, official reports reaching here said. A large number of militants swooped on the Shanna-Thakaraie village in Kishtwar tehsil and opened indiscriminate fire from their automatic weapons killing five people on the spot and injuring eight others, three of them later succumbed to their injuries, the reports said.

SSP Doda and DIG Doda-Udhampur range have rushed to the village along with security forces to take stock of the situation, an official spokesman here said. He said minister of state for home Mushtaq Ahmed lone and commissioner-cum-secretary home department C. Phunsong were also rushing to the area.

Ethnic cleansing leaves a bloody trail

The latest massacre in Doda on Monday night, adding 16 to the list of the dead, reveals the full horror of ethnic cleansing which is seen as part of militants' new strategy in the Jammu region. For the villagers, it is a question of survival in hard times with the bare minimum resources, as the love for their land keeps them rooted there despite heavy odds. Scared of militants they could earlier identify them easily, but since the ultras have started moving about in army uniforms, the locals are in a dilemma.

Last month, militants in army uniforms mowed down 25 villagers in Champnan. The act was repeated in Thakrai and Sarban villages near Kishtwar on Monday night. Dressed in olive green army uniforms, the ultras killed innocent villagers in cold blood.

On its part, the administration had given several assurances that the recurrence of such incidents would be checked. Even Union Home Minister Lal Krishan Advani categorically assured the people that these massacres would not be repeated, after he visited Doda in the wake of the Champnari episode. However, things have only worsened. "I don't know what to say. The Home Minister has visited my (Udhampur-Doda parliamentary) constituency twice, but on both occasions, tragedy warranted his visits," remarked Prof Chaman Lal Gupta, BJP MP. He is sure that the withdrawal of forces has resulted in more massacres. Equally angry with the State Administration, he says it has failed "to instil even a basic sense of security among the people. It lacks direction and there is a nexus that is responsible for the recurrence of such tragedies in Doda and other parts of the region."

On the other hand, the village defence committees (VDCs) raised to enable villagers to protect themselves against militants' attacks, are themselves under increase attack by militants. They are also exposed to additional dangers being armed with obsolete 303 rifles.

The series of massacres of minorities in the Jammu region shows a clear pattern at work., Officials feel that it is a strategy to effect ethnic cleansing in the Jammu region just as Kashmiri Pandits were made to flee the Valley in the early nineties.

Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah also feels that such killings are part of a bigger gameplan-that of making the Dixon plan a reality. The Dixon plan envisages a Muslim Kashmir Valley with parts of the Jammu region too. "But, there is little realisation that the State needs more forces and financial resources to raise its own manpower," officials close to the Chief Minister point out. The State does not even have money to pay salaries to its employees.


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