21 years after the Sopore massacre of 6 January 1993, the Indian State continues to protect its soldiers.
On 6 January 1993, personnel of the 94th Battalion, Border Security Force [BSF] carried out an attack in Sopore town that led to the killing of more than 50 civilians, injury to 10-20 civilians, and destruction of more than 500 shops and 20-25 houses. The Sopore Chowk was burnt down including the roadside areas of: Shahabad, Bobimir Sahab, Muslim Peer, Shallapora and Kralteng. Further, Samad Talkies, and the women’s college located near the Sopore chowk were also burnt by BSF.
The government set up a one man Commission of Inquiry on 30 January 1993 comprising of Justice Amarjeet Choudhary. Between, 30 January 1993 and 30 April 1994, the Commission visited Jammu and Kashmir only once. The government described the inquiry as a “farce” and chose not to extend the term of the Commission. No report was therefore submitted by the Commission.
Simultaneously the CBI was tasked with the investigation in January 1993 itself and took 20 years [January 1993 to July 2013] to carry out investigations, only to seek closure of the case citing lack of evidence.
The farcical actions of the State are in contrast to the available evidence that could be used to prosecute personnel of the 94th Battalion, BSF. The CBI record itself has names of ten BSF officers/personnel who could be indicted in this case, including then DIG R.S. Jasrotia, Sector Headquarters, BSF, Baramulla and Commandant S. Thanggapan, 94th Battalion, BSF. Instead, the CBI has sought to rely on a BSF court-martial to close investigations [despite never seeing the court-martial file as the BSF refused to share the same]. In fact, through RTI information gathered, it is clear that the court-martial process by the BSF was only an attempt to cover up the massacre as the seven BSF personnel prosecuted were ultimately found guilty of ONLY “Mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy houses, etc”, and the maximum punishment awarded was “3 months RI in force custody”.
The survivors of the Sopore massacre have contested the closure of the case, and the CBI has been asked by the TADA court, Srinagar, to produce the entire investigation record on 20 January 2014. Despite earlier court orders to the same effect, the CBI is deliberately refusing to share the record, so as to further delay the proceedings. The survivors have sought to challenge the CBI before the court as this is a way to contest the lies of the State, and its attempt to cover up the Sopore massacre of 1993.
After the massacre, which resulted into huge loss of life and property, the denial of justice is only an endorsement of the crime by the Indian State. The remembrance of martyrs of Sopore massacre is the reiteration of the pledge of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, that crimes perpetrated by India, will not be forgotten and perpetrators never forgiven.
Courtesy: Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society