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No justice for the families of massacred 35 Kashmiri Sikhs, even after 23 years

The All-Party Sikh Coordination Committee Kashmir (APSCCK) Chairman Jagmohan Singh Raina said that the victim Sikh families have given up all hope to get justice.

Even after 23 years of the massacre of 35 Kashmiri Sikhs in Chattisinghpora village of Anantnag district, reportedly by unidentified gunmen no one could be arrested to date, and no inquiry has been conducted.

The All-Party Sikh Coordination Committee Kashmir (APSCCK) Chairman Jagmohan Singh Raina said in an exclusive interview with indianarrative.com, “the victim Sikh families have given up all hope to get justice. But still, they decided not to leave the village though most of their male members got killed in March 2020.”

The APSCCK held a prayer meeting for the departed souls at a local gurdwara. The members of the Sikh, Hindu and Muslim communities attended it. After the ‘Ardaas,’ community langar followed.

Demanding a thorough probe, Raina recalled that after the midnight Chattisinghpora incident, 5-labourers were killed by the security forces in Pathribal, claiming they were responsible for the murder of the Sikhs at Chattisinghpura.

Later an inquiry ordered by the state government found that the Pathribal encounter was fake. Guilty security personnel were charge-sheeted in the Army’s court of inquiry. But the core incident of Chattisinghpora that led to the killing of 5-labourers was never probed.

Justice Pandian Commission formed to inquire into various violent incidents, did not probe the Chattisinghpora killings of the Sikhs and looked into other incidents of violence. The matter went up to the Apex Court, and the statement of Nanak Singh, the only surviving eyewitness, was recorded after much persuasion. Nothing concrete came out of it. At present, Nanak Singh is nearing 90 years of age, says APSCC Chairman.

Raina says, “APSCC is of the view that the murdered Sikhs be declared national victims. Their surviving children need to be looked after by the government.”

He adds: “These brave families of Chattisinghpora did not migrate despite unprecedented bloodshed. A special package needs to be granted to the affected families to provide jobs to the children of the Sikh minority on the line as to the Kashmiri pandits who have stayed back in the state.”

To a question, Raina said that he raised the matter with former Prime Ministers Atul Behari Vajpayee and Dr Manmohan Singh but all in vain. APSCC wrote over 500 letters to different members of parliament of all parties, but nothing tangible came out.

However, he put on record his appreciation for Prime Minister Narendra Modi for observing Gurpurabs at the national level, for opening the Kartarpur Sahib corridor and for giving liberal grants for the propagation of Sikh philosophy and added he should now consider giving minority status to Sikhs in Kashmir as has been done for the Hindus.

Srinagar Correspondent Ahmed Ali Fayyaz adds:

There has been no closure to the Chattisinghpora massacre in the last 23 years. The main reason, according to the government officials, is that Justice SR Pandian Commission investigated only the Brakpora firing incident in which 7 civilian demonstrators were killed by SOG Anantnag.

Regarding the Chattisingpora massacre, Pandian observed that its investigation was not possible as nobody was feeling free to depose before a commission. The Pathribal firing incident was investigated by CBI which found 5 Army officers guilty of killing 5 innocent labourers terming them “foreign terrorists” in a fake encounter. But the Army provided institutional support to the five officers and contested the CBI probe in the Supreme Court (SC) of India. SC finally agreed to Army’s contention that a Court of Inquiry by the Army would hold an inquiry.

Until today, neither the killers of 35 Sikhs have been found or punished nor the killers of the 5 civilians in the Pathribal fake encounter.

The UT Government, as of now, has no plans to open an investigation of these incidents as most of the eyewitnesses/accused have either died in the last 23 years. The witnesses, if any, are not feeling safe appearing against the terrorists.