April 2000 News

Massacre casts shadow over Baisakhi celebrations

13 April 2000
Hindu
Shujaat Bukhari

CHATTI SINGHPORA: The hamlet in Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir is devoid of celebrations on the eve of Baisakhi, annual festival of Sikhs. The reason - 23 days ago 35 innocent Sikhs were shot by unidentified gunmen in the village, leading to an unprecedented strife in the southern part of Kashmir. Grim-faced male members of the community have joined sobbing women and children to recall that black evening. Sikhs from various localities of Kashmir made a beeline to Chatti Singhpora today to join the bereaved families on the ''Baisakhi Day'', which marks the beginning of summer in the Valley. ''We have no Baisakhi today,'' said Kartar Singh who came all along from Baramulla to join his community members weeping and wailing in the local gurdwara. All the functions at various gurdwaras for Baisakhi and the ''melas'' have been cancelled. Protected by two platoons of the Central Reserve Police Force, the village is still under a sense of deep shock. Muslims allege that they face harassment at the hands of security forces.'' Five Muslim youth were beaten to pulp by these CRPF men for no reasons,'' said Abdul Gaffar. These things do not help in bridging the gaps but add fuel to the fire. There are 26 Muslim families in Khan Mohalla, 13 in Guru Mohalla and 25 in Sheikh Mohalla and around 400 Sikh families in the village. Though hostilities may not end in the near future, a positive development is the unanimous decision that Sikhs will not leave the village. ''We will not migrate. We will live here, die here'' asserts Balwinder Singh, a young man. He is optimistic about an end to the hostile atmosphere, saying such wounds take time to heal. At the same time, the killing of five civilians in an ''encounter'' haunts the entire population. Even as they are hesitant in commenting on what happened in the aftermath of the Sikh massacre, they feel it badly.

 

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