3 children, 2 women among 7 massacred in Arnas; 6 hurt
8 April 2002
The Daily Excelsior
UDHAMPUR: Terrorists massacred seven civilians of minority community including three children and two women, wounded six others and set ablaze 21 houses after over eight hour long gun-battle with the Village Defence Committee (VDC) members at village Dandli Dansal, about 22 kms from Arnas in Mahore tehsil of this district last night. The VDC members resisted the terrorists’ massacre attempt for eight hours by giving them tough fight. It was only after the VDC members’ exhausted their ammunition that the terrorists lobbed grenades and opened firing on the houses of minority community killing seven and wounding five others. Official sources and the injured (admitted in the Medical College, Jammu) told EXCELSIOR that a big group of approximated 20 terrorists attacked the village at 2115 hours. They lobbed a couple of grenades in the village and started indiscriminate firing. A total of 20 VDC members in the village took positions in their houses and retaliated the firing. According to the sources, the terrorists had surrounded about 20-odd houses of the minority community and were selectively targeting them. But, the effective retaliatory firing brought down by the VDC members jointly kept the terrorists at bay till 0500 hours today. As firing from the VDC members stopped, the terrorists presumed that former have exhausted their ammunition. The terrorists then resorted to indiscriminate firing on the houses of minority community and subsequently set them on fire. After torching the houses, the ultras escaped to a surrounding hill from where they continued intermittent firing on the village. Local people came to rescue of the victims and brought some of them out from the burning houses. A total of seven persons including two VDC members had died on spot while six others were injured. A team of Special Task Force (STF) was first to reach the spot at 0730 hours. The team had to trek three hours on foot to reach the spot from the nearest Chiladi post. The STF team flashed a message to security forces and police and requisitioned the re-enforcement as the terrorists continued firing and didn’t allow the victims to be evacuated. The terrorists escaped to a surrounding forest area only after the enforcement of security personnel and police reached the village. Twenty-one houses had been torched by the terrorists and reduced to ashes, the sources said, adding the terrorists selectively targeted the houses of minority community. Infact, they said, from very beginning of the attack, the ultras had surrounded the minority houses only, indicating that they had conducted a recee of the village earlier. Sources suspected hand of some local terrorists also in the attack. Three to four youths of Dandli Dansal had joined the ranks of Hizbul Mujahideen outfit early last year after resigning from the VDCs. Of about 20 terrorists involved in the attack, majority was of the foreign mercenaries. Seven persons killed in the attack have been identified as Shindo Devi, 6, daughter of Moti Ram, Shrishto Devi, 4, daughter of Heera and Shomey Lal, 10, son of Krishan Singh, all minors, Sobha Ram, 50, son of Santo Ram, and Shanker Dass, 50, both VDC members, Ganpato Devi, 40, wife of Moti Ram and Lal Dei, 35, wife of Heera. Lal Dei was sister of a VDC member Chain Singh while Shrishto Devi was her daughter. Six injured included Krishan Singh, 15, son of Moti Ram, Chain Singh, 26, son of Cheru Ram, Laxmi, 10, daughter of Bishan Dass, Sushma, 15, daughter of Bishan Dass, Naseebo Devi, 70, wife of Raseela and Lassu daughter of Heera. Barring Lassu, all other injured were airlifted to Jammu this morning and admitted in the Medical College hospital. Condition of Sushma was stated to be critical in the Medical College, where in the absence of any family attendant (most of whom were either killed or injured), the doctors had virtually ignored her and left her to the mercy of God. One of the injured Lassu has been admitted in a local hospital. Meanwhile, Minister of State for Home Khalid Najib Suhrawardhy, Director General of Police (DGP) A K Suri and IGP Jammu Pitambar Lal Gupta flew-in to the scene of carnage this afternoon and inter-acted with local people. They saw the houses, which were still in flames when they reached the village. Suhrawardhy condemned the incident and directed establishment of police pickets in the village. Immediate relief was also sent to the village and distributed among the claimants. Reports said the security forces and police had engaged the terrorists in an encounter this evening. A fierce exchange of gun-fighting was going on between the two sides till late this evening when the reports last came in. However, there had been no report of any casualties on the terrorists so far. In July last year, the terrorists had struck in the same village but their attempt (to kill the civilians) had been thwarted by the VDC members, who then had a sufficient quantity of ammunition with them. The houses burnt by the terrorists belonged to Bhagu Ram, Bal Krishan, Paras Ram, Lal Singh, Moti Ram, Rumal Singh, Jamal Din, Lal Singh, Roshan Din, Munshi Ram, Chain Singh, Hira, Mushtaq Ahmed, Mohd Rafiq, Wali Mohd, Mohd Kasim and Roshan. Meanwhile, Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah has strongly condemned the Dandli massacre. In a message, Dr Abdullah described it as a most heinous and barbaric crime against humanity. This is yet another gruesome act by the perpetuators of violence who have spilled lot of blood in Jammu and Kashmir during the past about 12 years, he said. Dr Abdullah has conveyed his heart felt condolences to the bereaved family.