57 civilians were killed, 400 Shops and 75 houses were burnt down by BSF troops
Sopore: On 28th anniversary of the Sopore massacre, survivors, eye witnesses recall the horrific incident, how forces went berserk and killed 57 civilians by showering bullets indiscriminately on this day in 1993.
The witnesses recalled the episode, saying that it was a cold morning on this day in 1993, when 57 civilians were allegedly killed by the forces in north Kashmir’s Sopore town, popularly known as the Apple town. The incident took place after militants attacked BSF men of 94 battalion at Baba Yousuf near women’s Degree College Main Chowk Sopore and snatched a weapon from a BSF trooper there.
“Ghulam Rasool Ganai, a shopkeeper who was an eye-witness to the carnage said, “following the weapon snatching incident, forces went berserk and fired indiscriminately upon the unarmed civilians and set ablaze the markets especially the area from main chowk to Tehsil Office. It is hard to forget the horrific incident,”he recalls.
Among the 57 dead civilians, scores were burnt alive,”he said, adding that marauding troopers dragged SRTC bus bearing registration no.(JKY-1901) driver out from the bus and showered bullets on the passengers, resulting in on the spot death of 20 passengers.
“The troopers later started spraying gun powder, petrol on the surrounding buildings, shops and houses and set these establishments ablaze in which more than 400 establishments and 75 residential houses in and around five localities including Shalpora, Shahabad, Muslimpeer, Kraltang and Arampora were turned into ashes.
Besides eye-witness, the families who lost their beloved on this day are still in utter shock as one among the family lost four of its members in the episode, The Shalla family at Shalpora who lost their four family members identified as Mohammad Ashraf Shalla, Ghulam Rasool Shalla, Sajad Ahmad Shalla and Bashir Ahmad Shalla, one of the shalla family member said.
He said” We had fruit business. A day before the massacre one of our fruit laden truck had got stuck in a drain near main chowk. Four members of our family who were retrieving the truck on the day of the massacre had taken shelter in a shop when the BSF troops started firing at people.The BSF men entered the shop and killed them all.”
Tariq Ahmad kanjwal 55, a surviver and eyewitness of the massacre, was 27 year old then “the image of a burning shopkeeper emerging out of his shop and shouting hysterically has stayed with me all these years. His head was in flames. I remember BSF officer telling his colleagues not to shoot him as he will be dead soon. ” said Tariq kanjwal.
Tariq also remembers how Shaheen, the owner of shaheen studio a Photoshop, and his assistant, were burnt alive in the shop.The charred bodies of the duo were found hugging each other and later on were burried in a single grave.
Pertinent to mention that, Sopore town in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district observed complete shutdown in remembrance of this horrific tragedy.