It was the night of 23rd March 2003. At about 10:30 PM at night masked terrorists entered Nadimarg, a sleepy village in Pulwama District of Jammu and Kashmir and massacred 24 Kashmiri Pandits including men, women and toddlers.
Now 14 years later we revisit the dastardly incident and remember just one aspect of one of the biggest injustices heaped on the citizens of this country since independence. We were aided in this story by the tweets of Journalist Rahul Pandita who provided information which the establishment has tried to hard to stifle.
In 2003 the village of Nadimarg was home to only some 52 Kashmiri Pandits spread across 4 extended families, with others having already fled the valley during the 1990 exodus of their community. In the days leading up to the massacre, on 21st and 22nd March the assailants which comprised of members of a terrorist group and some youths from a nearby village scouted Nadimarg to ascertain the location of the Kashmiri Pandits.
And on that fateful night of the 23rd, they came with guns. As Rahul narrates, Pandits were taken to a courtyard, made to kneel down and and shot in their heads. The assailants didn’t even spare toddlers.
The police later provided a token security to the surviving Pandits in the desperate hope that they stayed on. Not because they wished for the Pandits to remain in their motherland but because they wanted to ensure that the ashes of the victims were disposed off in Kashmir. They feared their making way to Jammu and then possibly getting paraded on the streets could have become an instigator for communal riots.
Mohan Bhatt one of the survivors of this attack recounted how he had managed to save himself by hanging on a roof wedge. His parents, sister and uncle weren’t so fortunate. To further aggravate his pain, the very next day he caught a man from his own village selling his dead mother’s Dejharu, a piece of jewelry sacred to Kashmiri Pandits.
Mohan revealed another shocking detail when he claimed that the terrorists were even accompanied by a few policemen. Even reports from 2003 were suggestive of an investigation against 9 police officers for being complicit in the crime. There were also reports of two terrorists involved in the attack visiting the nearby police picket for months before the attack. But almost all the facts still lie behind a veil of secrecy.
The motive? The assailants reportedly wanted to celebrate Pakistan Resolution Day which also falls on 23rd March or wanted to extol revenge for the post Godhra riots in Gujarat. We might never know as the local police hasn’t made any effort to reveal the identity of the killers let alone punish them.
Most of the above details are a result of a ground zero investigation by Kashmiri Pandit Sangarsh Samiti (KPSS) an organisation formed by a group of Pandits who have stayed back in the valley. The president of KPSS Sanjay K Tikoo called it a well planned attempt and also alleged that nobody has been for the heinous attack.
Its been fourteen years since the attack took place and battling the haunting memory of that fateful night, the Pandits from Nadimarg still await justice.