Sopore Massacre | Survivors Recount the Horrors of 6 January, 1993

Video By: Basharat Amin

Article By: Nusrat Ali

Kashmir and its history is replete with intimate massacres. These massacres were not only witnessed after the birth of nation-states who drafted the independent nation into disputed territory but were also witnessed during Mughal rule, Afghan rule, Sikh as well as in Dogra rule.

The Indian Army is also accused of many massacres. Some of them include – Gawkadal massacre, Handwara massacre, Khanyar massacre, Bijbehara massacre, Sopore massacre, Zakura and Tengpora massacre, Hawal massacre, Kupwara massacre etc.

The Sopore Massacre refers to the killing of more than 40 Kashmiri civilians by the Indian Border Security Force (BSF). On January 6, 1993, at least 43 persons were killed, and a one-and-a-half kilometer-long block in central Sopore burned to the ground in the largest reprisal attack by the security forces in the history of the conflict. The incident marked a watershed, forcing state and central government forces to acknowledge for the first time that the BSF forces responsible had retaliated against the town’s civilian population after two of their forces were injured and subsequently died in a militant attack.

Witnesses reported seeing BSF soldiers pour gasoline on to rags, set them alight and toss them on to houses and shops. The BSF also prevented firefighters from putting out the blaze. In addition to the 43 persons who died as a result of gunshot injuries or burns, 14 persons were injured, and 8 persons remain missing. The fire destroyed or seriously damaged 37 residential buildings, 234 shops, 61 storehouses and a cinema.

The family which suffered the highest number of casualties was the Shalla family of Shalpora. Four of its men were killed.

“The Border Security Forces sprayed a public coach with machine-gun fire, killing the driver and more than 15 passengers, setting vehicles, houses and shops ablaze across the town. BSF started herding the native Kashmiris into shops and houses. Then the security forces shot them, splashed paraffin over the bodies and set the buildings alight.” – An eyewitness.

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