Bloodied Memories

  • Ishfaq Nabi
  • Publish Date: Mar 19 2018 1:46AM
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  • Updated Date: Mar 19 2018 1:46AM
Bloodied Memories

Photo: The graveyard at Nasrullapora where the people killed in the massacre are buried

 

Witnesses to the 1992 massacre in Nasrullapora and Parsoo in Budgam continue to live with the horror 

 

It was July 13, 1992. Abdul Gani Dar, a tailor, was working at his home in Nasrullapora village in central Kashmir’s Budgam district when he heard a loud explosion. It shook everything around him. 

“I never had heard anything that loud before,” he recalls. “Within a few minutes, the sky was covered with dark smoke that even blotted out the sun. I ran out and there was chaos all around. Then, in an instant, bullets started whizzing past me.”

One hit Abdul Gani in his left arm, another in the right thigh and a few in the left thigh. “They pierced my body like a hot iron rod.” When the guns fell silent, 11 people lay dead and dozens wounded. Abdul Gani, now 58, “can’t walk even an inch by foot”.

It was one of the worst massacres that Kashmir has witnessed since the armed revolt against Indian rule began in the late 1980s. Yet, it’s largely forgotten. For its witnesses, though, it a nightmare without end. 

It was a “normal day”, Abdul Gani says, “as usual very quiet and not much work to do”. “Farmers had finished their seasonal work in the paddy fields. Children were in school.” 

The explosion shattered the idyll. It was a “grenade lobbed on a road operation party” of the army, an FIR registered at the Budgam police station later that day states. The contingent was “ambushed in village Nasrullapora by anti-national elements at around 1505 hours”, the FIR reads. “Extensive firing of LMG and AK-56 was brought on the vehicle carrying transport. The road operating protection party retaliated and chased the anti-national elements...Our own party suffered 2 causalities...among whom an army officer Balbeer succumbed to his injuries...The vehicle of the Party and some weapons were also damaged during the ambush and cross-firing by anti-national elements with own troopers which lasted for approximately one hour and few civilian also seem to have died and sustained bullet injuries.”

“It was mayhem,” Abdul Gani recalls. “People died in front of me. The road turned red with their blood. I have never witnessed such scenes in my life. Everywhere you looked, people were drenched in blood, dead bodies lying on the ground, the wounded crying for help.

“I remember exactly how and where I fell down after I was hit,” he continues. “I cried for help. I though I was going to die. Blood was gushing out. Then I fell unconscious. I woke up in hospital.”

Abdul Rahman Rather saw Abdul Gani slump down. He was “motionless, speechless, lifeless,” he recalls. “One bullet had torn through his pocket, a comb, a fifty rupee note and a key.” 

Shameema Begum, in her late 50s, also witnessed the massacre, in which she lost her husband Mohammad Ismail Dar. “Ismail had lunch and left to stitch shawls at a neighbour’s home,” she recalls. “Soon as he got out of the gate, about a dozen of army men intercepted him and without saying anything pumped bullets into his body. He fell down with a thud. He lay there crying for help and asking for water. I rushed with a glass of water but the army men did not let me give it to him.”

“I will never forget what happened that day,” Shameema says. “You can’t imagine what it feel like seeing your little children go hungry for as long as fifteen days because the family’s bread-earner was killed in coldblood for no reason.”

Mohammad Altaf Mir, now in his 30s, witnessed his father and grandfather being slain that day. “I was sitting in my grandfather’s lap sipping tea when I saw a few army men rushing towards our home. They dragged out my father Abdul Majeed Mir. My mother tried to stop them, but they beat her up him with their guns. My grandfather, Suleiman Mir, held me tightly. Peeping through windowpanes, we saw the army men stand my father in a corner of the courtyard. They hold him to turn around. Then they shot him in the back. My grandfather shrieked, ‘Why did you kill this innocent man, he was not a militant’. This probably angered the army men and they came back in. He put me down in a corner and locked the door, but they broke it down. And as soon as they saw him, they shot him and left.”

Not long after, the army contingent killed six sawyers from a single family as well as the son of an ex-army man in Pasroo village, about 6 km away. In Pasroo, a village of about 30 households, everyone recalls the story of the massacre as if they have witnessed it themselves, for the tragic tale is passed down the generations, told and retold. Lest they forget.