The 2002 Qasim Nagar Massacre

An unidentified girl cries during a funeral ceremony for a relative killed in the militant attack.
An unidentified girl cries during a funeral ceremony for a relative killed in the militant attack.

The 2002 Qasim Nagar massacre was the killing of 29 Hindu labourers in Qasim Nagar on the outskirts of Jammu (city) in Jammu and Kashmir by alleged Islamic militants on 13 July 2002. The dead included 13 women and a child.

Background

Killings of Hindus had been intermittent but regular feature of the Insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir. Several prior incidents like Wandhama massacre had forced majority of Hindu population of Kashmir valley to leave the area and seek refuge in Jammu and elsewhere.

The attack

On 13 July 2002, around 8 pm, up to eight suspected militants walked into the Qasimnagar slum on the outskirts of Jammu Disguised as Hindu holy men, they threw three or four grenades before opening fire with automatic weapons (AK-47s). Within minutes 24 people, all Hindus, were dead. Three more died later in hospital and at least 30 were injured, some critically. The dead included 13 women and a child. The gunmen escaped into the thickly wooded hills nearby. The victims were listening to the commentary of Indian-England cricket match.

There was a power cut at that time and many had gathered around a radio to listen to cricket commentary being broadcast live from Lord’s Cricket Ground. Most of those killed were very poor labourers who lived in makeshift sheds fabricated from discarded apple crates. The dead included 2 blind beggars, 13 women and 1 child.

Aftermath

On 15 July, a complete bandh was observed in Jammu in protest against the incident.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw condemned the massacre saying “Terrorism be it in Jammu, Kashmir or anywhere else only serves to renew the determination of the free world to fight this evil. My thoughts are with the families and friends of those who suffered”. United States, Britain, and France also condemned the weekend attack.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke to External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha and condemned the massacre which he described as a “terrorist act”. The State Department also released one-para statement on behalf of Mr Powell saying: “I condemn the vicious killing of over 20 persons in Jammu yesterday. The people of this region deserve peace and development, not the suffering imposed upon them by terrorist thugs who are beyond the pale of the civilised world. The perpetrators of this heinous act are proving once again that they do not have the interest of the Kashmiri people at heart, but rather seek to undermine efforts to ease tensions in the region.”

Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a communication with the Ministry of External Affairs here, said: “The present terrorist act in Jammu and Kashmir like yesterday’s attack on a group of foreign tourists in the north of Pakistan form part of the same chain of international terrorism which present today a major threat to peace and security, including in South Asia.

We emphasise that the first step in ending terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir is the consistent implementation of commitments given by the Government of Pakistan for preventing activities of terrorist groups on the territory under its control,” it said.

Arrests

The Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police said that “Pakistan-based militant outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba” is responsible for the attack. Subsequently Indian Police arrested Mohammad Abdullah alias Abu Talah of Lashkar-e-Taiba in connection with this massacre. Seven more militants belonging to Lashkar-e-Taiba were arrested later.

Source

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