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Shame on secular silence

Shame on secular silence

Publication: Organiser
Date: April 21, 2002

Introduction: Massacre in Udhampur

Jammu: Within hours of Jammu-Kashmir's Director General of Police boasting of police successes in containing terrorism, another gory massacre took place in the remote Arnas area of Udhampur district in Jammu division with the security agencies unable to nab the killer.

The killing of seven persons including three minor children, two women and two others as also injuries to half a dozen others in addition to burning of over a score of houses of Hindus in the village of Dandli of Arnas area have added not only to a long list of massacres in Jammu and Kashmir but also this incident has left behind many questions that need answer by the men in authority. The secularist brigade, not surprisingly, continues to maintain silence over atrocities being meted out to Hindus in J&K.

It was on the night of April 7/8, when at about 9 pm a large number of heavily armed terrorists came down from the hills and descended on about a dozen of houses of minority community.

The brave villagers retaliated and replied to the fire of the terrorists who had surrounded their houses from different directions.

The fire continued for about eight hours as the members of the Village Defence Committee put a tough resistance. But the terrorists were not only in large numbers (some put the number at about 60 to 70 and others say about 100) but also armed with deadly weapons like the grenade launchers and tracer bullets.

According to one of the injured, heavily armed terrorists cordoned the houses of 15 Hindu families at 9 pm on Sunday and announced to hand over rifles of VDC members as the members of these families are in VDC. When VDC members refused to handover their rifles at about 10 pm terrorists opened fire from all directions on their houses. Immediately the four VDC members with their 303 rifles retaliated the fire.

The four VDC members with 200 bullets engaged terrorists with Pika guns, universal machine guns and A.K. series automatic weapons and modern explosives like ULGM for more than eight hours.

In the meantime they also managed to evacuate injured and also sent one person to the nearest Special Operation Group (SOG) for the help. The SOG post is 20 km away from the village.

As the invaders failed to force surrender by the VDC members, the terrorists rained grenades and fired tracers to set the houses ablaze.

While four persons were killed due to grenade splinters three were roasted alive because of fire, six other injured received bullet and grenade injuries. These injured include two young girls and a lady.

"Terrorists set ablaze some houses with heavy firing but as most of the people were evacuated the number of the killed were less otherwise casualty rate would have been very high", said one of the injured at the Govt Medical College, Jammu. After torching the houses, the terrorists 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 the burning houses.

Sources suspected hand of some local terrorists also in the attack. Three to four youth of this village had joined the ranks of Hizbul Mujahideen outfit last year after resigning from VDC. Majority of the terrorists involved in the attack was foreigner mercenaries.

Despite getting injured the members of VDC did not lose heart and they even today talk about fight back if they are provided sophisticated weapons and adequate ammunition.

The VDC members were having outdated weapons like 303 rifles and just 50 rounds with each gun provided by the authorities but still they fought for nine hours. Shri Krishan Singh, a prominent social activist of the area, alleged that there was virtually criminal negligence on part of certain Govt high-ups, if there was no connivance to force the minorities to migrate from this area.

This painful act of barbarism could be averted if the authorities concerned would have paid heed to the appeals and requests of the people of the villages to provide a post of the special task force (STF) and arms and ammunition to the VDC, he added and stressed for independent probe to check any further carnage and migration of the minority community.

He pointed out that this was the fourth attack on this village since last year and third since February this year. On February 26, a large group of terrorists had attacked the village in which a member of VDC, Shri Angrez Singh, was injured but the attack was repulsed by the VDC members.

He further said that during the past about a week now the terrorists had been setting ablaze houses of minority community and about a dozen of houses of minority community were gutted before this last assault.

Since the eruption of terrorism in the State the terrorists have committed over 60 incidents of massacres. Out of those 45 have been committed in the hilly and remote areas of Jammu region. These areas include in Doda, Udhampur, Mahore, Gool-Arnas, Budhal-Drahal, Rajouri and those of Poonch-Mendhar.

The obvious purpose of these massacres is to force the migration of minority communities and create communal divide. But the most astounding part of the whole melodrama is that there was not a single case in which the terrorists were arrested and dealt under law of the land, although in several cases the locals were identified by the victims.

The latest report said that many families of Dandli and some other areas belonging to minority community have migrated to Kanthan village of Reasi Sub-Division of Udhampur District.

(With inputs from Khajuria S. Kant)

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