Bandh In Poonch After Hindu Massacres
1 January 2002
The Indian Express
Poonch: Six members of a Hindu family including a housewife and a six-month-old child were killed by militants at Magnar village nearly 10 km from the border Poonch town in Jammu and Kashmir late Monday evening. Sources said that a group of militants came to Magnar Top, an isolated forest area inhabited by Hindus, around 5.45 p.m. and knocked at the doors of an ex-serviceman Baldev Raj. As the inmates responded, two militants entered the house and asked them to lit a candle. Thinking that the militants might have come for food, the inmates brought meals for them. Instead, the militants refused to take meals and asked them to sit on the floor. Thereafter, they opened fire killing five of them on the spot and injuring two others. One of the injured persons later succumbed to injuries in the government district hospital in Poonch. Sources identified the deceased as Baldev Raj (55), his sons Kuldeep Raj (20) and Sunil Kumar (6 months), besides his brothers Ashok Kumar and Khetar Pal, and Khetar Pal''s wife Geeta Devi. Baldev''s wife Champa Devi was injured and referred to the government medical college hospital at Jammu. Senior police officials along with a police party rushed to the massacre site during night and launched operation to flush out the militants. However, no information was available about the whereabouts of militants. Meanwhile, tension prevailed in Poonch town as news about the massacre reached there in the morning. A group of people went to Magnar Top and brought the bodies to Geeta Bhawan, Poonch. All the shops and other business establishments in the town were closed and people in large numbers started gathering at Geeta Bhawan. As the tempers ran high in the town, leaders of social, political and religious organisations announced that they will not cremate the bodies until someone from the Centre visited them. Nearly 10,000 people had gathered at Geeta Bhawan by Tuesday afternoon. The police and para-military forces were deployed in Poonch town to check any untoward incident. Senior civil and police officers were persuading the agitators to allow cremation of the bodies.