April 1999 News

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Woman, 3 daughters killed by militants in Poonch

2nd April 1999
Daily Excelsior

POONCH: In yet another barbaric and shameful act, the militants massacred four female members of a family including a woman and her three young daughters in broad-day light today at Morha Bachai in Surankote area of this district.

This was second massacre of a family in this border district in less than a week. About 30 families today migrated to town here from Hari Budha where three youths were massacred by the militants few days back.

Official sources said a group of four militants forced their entry into the house of Mohd Zaman at Morha Bachai village in Surankote at about 1030 hours today and locked the family members inside their house.

All four female members of Mohd Zaman’s family, who were present in the house, were slaughtered by the militants. Their throats were slit by the militants one by one resulting into their instant death. Militants, who weren’t carrying any weapon with them, escaped from the house after killing the women and fled towards an adjoining forest area.

Local people, who heard the cries of women, reached the house after militants’ escape and found the women dead. They informed about the incident at a local picket of security forces. Police and security forces jawans reached the spot and sealed the area.

The victims have been identified as Barkat Bi wife of Mohd Zaman and her three daughters Parveen Akhter, Shakeel Akhter and Gulshan Akhter. Mohd Zaman wasn’t present at his house when the militants struck. He had gone to his routine work in the fields.

Tension gripped the village as the report of women’s barbaric killings by the militants spread. A large number of local people gathered on the spot and confronted the police and security forces for their failure to protect the lives of innocent civilians.

People resented security forces failed to intercept the militants, who struck in broad-day light and easily escaped after killing four family members. Senior officers of police and security forces also reached the spot in the afternoon and directed the jawans to launch an operation in the area to track down the militants responsible for the shameful act of killing four women.

Police have also detained some suspects and was questioning them. Till late tonight, the militants involved in the massacre remained untraced. Post-mortem was performed on the bodies on the spot today and they were handed over to Mohd Zaman.

Local people have strongly resented the killings of civilians, especially those of women, by the militants by dubbing them as police and Army informers. "How the innocent women can be informers"? they asked and asserted that militants can’t justify the killings of women on the pretext of being informers.

Police reports reaching here said that many people were seen shouting anti-militants and anti-Pakistan slogans after seeing the dead bodies of four women, who had been brutally tortured and killed by the militants.

Though Surankote police have started investigations in the case, police officers believed that killings were executed by the local militants at the behest of foreign mercenaries. The very fact that militants drove straight into the house of Mohd Zaman and that too in broad-day light clearly indicates that local militants were involved in the massacre.

Meanwhile, about 30 families migrated from Hari Budha and reached Poonch town this morning in view of terror of the militants. On March 26 night, militants had massacred three youths including Munir Hussain, Abdul Shakoor and Mushtaq Ahmed. These youths had also been slaughtered by the militants.

The ultras had left a note describing these innocent youths also as police informers. Local people had strongly countered the militants’ allegation asserting that youths had nothing to do with police or security forces and were innocent.

The migrant families have been lodged in Government accommodation. About 40 persons of about 15 families from Hari Budha had reached the town last evening while another 44 persons of 15 families reached the town today.

The migrant families told this correspondent that militants had let loose a reign of terror in Hari Budha and were terrorising the people, who refuse to co-operate with them.

Additional re-inforcement of Army and police have been dispatched to Hari Budha to launch a massive operation to flush out militants. So far, no success had been achieved. Reports said that a group of about 20 militants, most of them foreign mercenaries of Lashkar-e-Toiba and Harkat-ul-Jehad outfits were active in Hari Budha and they were being chased by the security forces.

The district civil and police administration met the migrant families and was persuading them to return to their homes with the assurance that adequate security arrangements will be made at Hari Budha.

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