Chithi Singhpora Massacre
The Tragedy in Kashmir Chithi Singhpora Massacre: A Report
By now the memory of Chithi Singhpora Massacre may have faded from the minds of the people in general and even as the tragedy has evaporated from the print media. But the tragedy has not only placed a question mark on the capacity of Indian Government to apprehend the culprits andprovide protection to the minorities, it has created an aweful vacuum in the lives of the bereaved families. We suggest that Sikhs across the world offer sponsorship for the orphaned children for education in institutions of their mothers’ choice. The Dagshai Public School, Dagshai. 173210 (HP) has offered residential education for two such children. For further enquiries, readers may contact Dr. Jogindar Singh Shan Kashmiri or Dr. Jasbir Singh Sarna, near Superbazar, Baramulla, 193101. Kashmir. - Ed SR.
The village Chithi singhpora is about 8 km away from Mattan where Guru Nanak paid visit during his travels and where he assigned the work of parchar to one Braham Dass. A Gurdwara tells the tale of past hundreds of years. Seven Gurdwaras were constructed around the spring, but demolished during Dogra and other Periods.
This village Chithisinghpora, the biggest village of Sikh community in District Anantnag is only about 9 km away from the main Gurdwara and sarover. About 250 Sikh families are living in this village. This village, as per revenue record, is also known as ‘Sikh Nar’h’. Narh is a Kashmiri word which means steppe land. One is taken aback as to how these 250 families live here as the land is steppe and during rain and snow people might have severe hardship. This village is divided in two parts and is connected through a small culvert type bridge. One Gurdwara which is bigger is in one part of village, and other Gurdwara is in other part of village. Mostly Sikhs cultivate land and are farmers on small scale. A few are working in different civil and army camps as labourers to earn, make both ends meet. No proper education is imparted here but now one, Gyani Rajinder Singh, a religions minded man has started a private middle school with the help of these Sikhs. This village was established due to the Dogra cruelty and Sikhs were dragged from city lest they should gain power to dethrone Dogra rulers.
It is on 20th of March, 2000, when some gunman in army uniform entered this village between 7.30 p.m. to 8 p.m., and assembled about 36 Sikhs, old, young and middle aged. Eighteen were kept in front of one Gurdwara and eighteen in front of other Gurdwara. This all was done under the pretext of crack down by army. and Sikhs were told that army commanding Officer is calling them.
At about 7.50 a bullet was shot from nearby mound and thus indiscriminate firing started against these 36 Sikhs at same time near both the Gurdwaras killing them on spot. Later one succumbed to injuries on his way to hospital. While as Master Nanak Singh is struggling hard for life, now shifted from Srinagar army hospital to Sri Darbar Sahib, Amritsar city. His fate is in the hand of WahiGuru.
During the night of 20-21 March, there was fear and tension, cries and mourning in this village. Only one official a S.H.O. Mattan (Mr Ishtiaq) reached this village after Gyani Rajinder Singh of this village risked his life and left on foot with Jasbir Singh, Advocate, of nearby village Ranbirpore. Army also reached, but a bit late.
On hearing of this massacre the writer of this report reached the village with two buses of Sikhs and while crossing Bijbehara, Anantnag and Mattan, it was observed that our Muslim brothers were stunned, tight- lipped. They closed their shops and Hartal was observed and, by and by, they sent word to all towns on phones and general Hartal was observed. When the buses were crossing towns Muslim community was seen gloomy yet helpless; on reaching this village one could not help weeping and becoming emotional to see all the 36 dead kept in the compound of one and the same big Gurdwara, their kith and kin, small children, sitting by the sides in stunned silence.
Wailing children and women were cursing those who perpetrated this massacre. Some children, unaware of what has happened, clung to their parents. Forgetting everything, hungry for last two days, joining and forgetting their hunger crying in unison with melancholic women. And in a few minutes wailing filled Gurdwara complex making, the atmosphere charged, on seeing thousands of Sikhs from all parts of the Valley and their relatives from far and wide.
The assembled youth became violent and emotional to see two minister of Dr. Farooq Abdullah’s Cabinet, protesting they had not been given their due by the Govt. since 1947, though it is because of Sikh community that this part of Kashmir was still with India, when 33,000 Sikhs lost their lives while fighting. the tribesmen of Baluchistan. The Divisional Commissioner (Baluchistan) Mr. Khursheed Ahmed Ganai, who is basically resident of Mattan and Dr. A. K. Bhan, I G Kashmir. Police, were managing the situation and were trying to get the cremation ceremony organised but it didn’t mature till Sardar Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, and S. S. Ahluwallia, M.P. and Prof. Chamanlal Gupta Minister along with the home secretary, arrived on the spot in an army helicopter.
However, Sikh community agreed to the request and cremation ceremony came to an end when 35 shahid bodies were laid on pyre together and cremated.
This writer made an announcement after a Gurmata was passed that none of the Sikh employees will attended their duties till 31st of March, 2000, the day fixed for Antim Ardas. Divisional Commissioner reacted and declared that Sikh employees will be treated on special leave for these days, to which he issued a circular after a few days. Thus we saluted these innocent men of Kashmir who laid their lives at the altar of their country.
Though Sikh Panthic leaders, likes Gurcharan Singh Tohras, Parkash Singh Badal, S. Simranjeet Singh Mann, Jathedar Ranjit Singh, and many others, like Permjeet Singh Sarna, President Delhi Gurdwara Committee,visited the village and gave financial help of Rs.1.50 lac (Delhi GPC) to the bereaved families and Mr. Parkash Singh Badal also gave 2.50 lacs per family, Haryana C.M. 1 lac per family, Kashmir Govt. 1 lac per family, and Congress Party offered ten lac, even then this savage act has shaken the faith of Sikhs of Valley. The massacre has outraged the whole Sikh community of world. All the Sikhs from every part marched on streets and showed their solidarity. This is indeed massacre of Kashmiriyat and their traditional brotherhood. I place for record the index of the martyred Singhs, and readers can come to their own conclusion regarding the economical condition of these Sikh martyrs.
Total martyrs - 35
Govt. employee - 14
Unemployed - 8
Students - 7
Farmers - 5
Small scale Contractors - 1
Male - 30 Female - 27 57 Age Group of Children
Between 1-10 - 26 Between 11-20 - 21 Between 21-30 - 08 Between 31-35 - 02
During all these days leaders belonging to all parties, like Congress, BJP, CPM, Hurriyat, National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party came to console these bereaved families but Sikhs are not happy. They are scared and their future in the Valley is not safe. They have deferred their decision, not to leave Valley, on the request of Muslim leaders like Hurriyat Conference, and Mr. Shabir Shah, who went to this extent that Sikhs "will be allowed to leave Kashmir on our dead bodies and even on my dead body," still Sikhs feel insecure. All the promises made by Home Minister of India and the State Govt. proved futile and bundle of lies. No security has been provided to 135 villages of Sikhs. But the Sikh community has responded to the advice and appeal of Panthik leaders who advised them not to immigrate in haste. Let us wait and see.
Joginder Singh "Shan Kashmiri"*
- P.o. Saimoh, Tral. 192123. Kashmir