Kashmiris await justice on Srinagar’s Chota Bazar massacre | By Shahbaz Ali

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Kashmiris await justice on Srinagar’s Chota Bazar massacre

THE history of India-Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) is full of atrocities and fake encounters by Indian security forces which included Chota Bazar that tells a horrendous story of violence carried out by the Indian forces.

On June 11, 1991, the Indian security forces after an alleged clash with unknown attackers at Zaina Kadal area of Srinagar, opened indiscriminate fire and killed 32 innocent Kashmiris including women and children and around 22 persons were also critically injured in the incident.

This incident still causes a deep anguish inside the hearts of the scores of bereaved families whose kiths and kins were massacred.

Thirty years on, the memories of Chota Bazaar massacre are still fresh in the Kashmiris’ minds and the victims are still awaiting justice.

The aim of committing Chita Bazaar was to instill fear among the Kashmiris. This massacres are an ugly stain on the face of so-called Indian democracy and the international community must take notice of Kashmiris’ genocide by India.

Even today, the resilient Kashmiris are determined to carry on freedom struggle against all odds and hazards.

Hardly a day goes by when Kashmiris are not targeted for showing resistance to the Indian illegal occupation.

This incident poses a question on the credibility of the human rights organisations that maintain their silence on India’s mass destruction policy in IIOJK.

Indian security forces are killing Kashmiri youths in the name of terrorist encounters. On 18 July, 2020 three youths, all labourers hailing from Rajouri district of Jammu region were martyred by the troops in Shopian district and labelled as “terrorists”.

After that Indian Army posted the pictures of the martyred youths on social media, which raised doubts about the Army’s claim, leading to a strong demand for investigation into the killings by international human rights organisations.

This incident pushed the Indian army to constitute a Court of Inquiry which found evidence that the troops had “exceeded” powers vested under the draconian law Armed Forces Special Powers Act and killed innocent youths in a fake encounter.

People in India may talk about the military court ruling being a matter of law, of procedure, of how the system operates, but the fact of the matter is that to the citizens of Kashmir, it does not make any difference.

For them, the military, the judiciary and the government of India are one and the same thing, different faces of the same aggressor.

Chota Bazar and other such incidences of extra judicial killings of Kashmiris constitute an act of brutal aggression.

India may appear as a democracy to outsiders, but to those whose kin are spent as fuel for the dirty war in Kashmir, it only appears as one thing: a ruthless empire.

Chota Bazar incident has entered at top long list of stark reminders of that black of decades, in Kashmir’s history, and of the total impunity the perpetrators of these crimes enjoy under the dark law AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act).

Many time Pakistan raise voice in the support of victims’ families of Chota Bazar incident but the international community should take notice of this massacre because 30 years on, Kashmiris await justice.

—The writer is an independent journalist, based in Islamabad.