January 2002 News

Woman, Two Children Among 6 Of A Family Massacred

1 January 2002
The Daily Excelsior
Excelsior Correspondent

POONCH: In yet another gruesome carnage, two terrorists mowed down six members of a family including a woman and two children and critically wounded another at their residence in village Mangnar Top, about two kms from the town last evening. Deceased included a one year old child. A seriously injured was airlifted to Jammu this afternoon and admitted in the Medical College hospital. Massacre created tension in the town, where people were spending sleepless nights for last one week due to unprecedented shelling on the Line of Control (LoC) from Pakistan. Local people shifted bodies of the victims to Geeta Bhawan here and refused to cremate them till a Central Minister visit the spot and looked into the plight of people. A complete bandh was observed in the town today as a mark of protest against the outrageous killings. Official sources said two terrorists in army uniforms entered into the house of Baldev Raj at Mangnar Top at 1730 hours yesterday when it had just started getting dark in the village due to cloudy weather. They asked Baldev Raj, an ex-serviceman, who alongwith his other family members was watching TV, as to whether he was an army jawan and giving information to police. Injured woman Champa Devi, admitted in Medical College, told EXCELSIOR in Jammu that both the terrorists, who were speaking Poonchi, wearing camouflage dresses and supporting beards introduced themselves as army jawans. Presuming the intruders as army jawans, Baldev Raj and his two brothers Khetar Pal and Ashok Kumar asked them to sit and take dinner. At this, both terrorists rebuffed the family members, asked them to increase the volume of their television set and called them out in the compound of their house. The terrorists then rained bullets on the family members with two assault rifles. Five family members were killed on spot while two others were seriously injured. Two children of Baldev Kumar (a boy and a girl) didnít come out and hide themselves under a bed. Both of them survived. Both terrorists managed to escape from the house. While the killings took place at 1730 hours, a police party from Poonch police station, which was just two kms from the site of massacre, reached the spot at 2330 hours, about six hours after the incident. Two injured were rushed to the district hospital here by the police. One of them succumbed to his injuries this morning while an injured woman was airlifted to Jammu this afternoon. Deceased have been identified as Baldev Raj, his two brothers Khetar Pal and Ashok Kumar, sons of Makhan Lal, Kuldeep Kumar, a 13 year old son of Baldev Raj, Geeta Devi wife of Khetar Pal and Sunil Kumar, a one year old son of Khetar Pal. Ashok Kumar succumbed to his injuries in the hospital while five others had died on spot. Injured woman has been identified as Champa Devi wife of Baldev Raj. She had sustained a gun shot on her thigh. Her condition was stated to be critical. SSP Poonch Dr Kamal Saini, Deputy Commissioner Ejaz Iqbal and DySP Headquarters Manjeet Singh visited the spot today morning. Army and police parties were also rushed to Mangnar to launch a search operation for the terrorists but they remained untraced. Searches were going on till this evening. Meanwhile, tension flared up in Poonch this morning when the report of massacre spread. A number of local people visited Mangnar Top and shifted dead bodies of all six persons including a one year old child to Geeta Bhawan. Despite repeated requests by the district and civil police administration, the people refused to cremate the dead bodies demanding a visit to Poonch by a Central Minister to see the intensified terrorism in the border district and mitigate their sufferings. A standoff between police and administration (on cremation of the bodies) continued till late this evening. People were, however, adamant on not performing last rites of the victims till their demands are met with. Hundreds of people visited Geeta Bhawan during the day despite a massive cold wave to pay their last respects to the victims. They also protested delayed arrival of police to the massacre site which resulted into death of an injured Ashok Kumar. A complete shutdown was observed in Poonch today to protest the killings. All shops, business concerns, Government offices, educational institutions, banks and treasuries remained closed. Commercial traffic also remained off the roads. Police and para-military have been deployed in the town in strength to maintain law and order.


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