The Bijbehara Bloodbath

When bullets rained on unarmed protestors and bodies fell

Dr. Reyaz Ahmad Ganaie
Srinagar, Publish Date: Oct 21 2018 10:56PM | Updated Date: Oct 21 2018 10:56PM
The Bijbehara BloodbathFile Photo

In response to the protest call given by All Parties Hurriyat Conference in valley against the siege of Dargah Hazratbal, this day 1993 thousands of people offered congregational Friday prayers in the Historical Jamia Masjid Bijbehara. After the prayers a peaceful procession marched towards the highway road to register their protest led by Huriyat leader Ghulam Nabi Sumji and the people from all walks of life and age groups including students were in the procession. They were protesting against the siege of Hazratbal Masjid and chanting slogans, Dargah Ka Mahasara khatam karo khatam karo, to put an end to the siege of Hazratbal Masjid in Srinagar. Once the protesters reached the Goriwan Chowk, the Border Security Force (BSF) personal of 74th Battalion without any provocation opened fire on the protesters. It was terrible. There were so many people lying on the ground. Others were running in panic for safety. The men in uniform continuously fired indiscriminately upon the protesters and killed 32 civilians and hundreds got injured. Although police had registered an FIR and a routine magistrate inquiry was also ordered into the massacre but all these years nothing has been done.

Despite the passage of twenty five years the perpetrators of the Bijbehara Massacre were not brought to justice. If we turn the pages of history which replete with massacres and unlike celebrations we have only mourning to commemorate the civilian killings and massacres since times immemorial. In this massacre a number of students were killed mercilessly by the Border Security Forces. The sad part of this massacre is that a couple of houses got locked forever for want of heir as a couple of youth who got killed in the massacre were the lone sons of their parents. The one among them was Mohammad Shafi Hamdani, The father of Mohammad Shafi had already died and soon after the incident due to the pangs of separation of his lone son his mother also died. The other youth who got killed in the Bijbehara massacre was Manzoor Ahmad Bader. Manzoor was orphan as his father had already died leaving her mother alone. The mother of Manzoor has developed deformity in her whole body as having no one to look after as her daughters were already married. In the given circumstances she was compelled to live with one of her married daughter and is continuously living with her and is still in a state of shock. How I could relate to how the families felt and suffered out of this massacre. The ruins of the abandoned houses of these families are still standing depicting the pain and sufferings of the incident of which one house got totally damaged in the devastating flood of 2014 of which the debris of the house is lying on the ground as no one could raise it again in absence of the heirs. However despite the passage of twenty five years the incident gives us a constant reminder of what happened on 22nd October 1993. However Bijbehara is perhaps the first and only town in valley where people have raised the memorial for the martyrs soon after the incident. The remains and standing structure in the shape of a monument inscribed with the names of all people who got martyrdom in the incident in the playground turned martyr’s graveyard in New Colony Bijbehara is a living example and a tribute to the martyrs of the Bijbehara massacre. 

The other part of the story for which we felt sadness and despair is about the survivors of this massacre are the persons with disabilities. I realized there is something we could do to highlight and to commemorate the Bijbehara massacre. It is how people always feel whenever a tragedy like Bijbehara massacre makes headlines. We can show that the disabled lives also matter. People with disabilities are among the most adversely affected during conflict situations and Bijbehara massacre is no exception to it.   There are a number of survivors of this massacre however I cannot catalogue here the names of each and everyone. Among these disabled survivors is Sara Begum, once the firing starts, Sara Begum known for his bravery came out of her house to see as to what happened. When she saw the injured persons outside her house, she remained stand still in the shock as the firing was going on and helped to lift the injured and to carry them to the safe place but the tyrant troops did not spare her as well and fired on her indiscriminately and she soon fell down and got severely injured. Sara Begum has the permanent disability is now struggling hard to cope up with her deteriorated health. The survivor of this massacre is Ali Mohammad Tak. He got multiple bullets in his leg and due to the severe injury he lost his lower limb in the incident. Ali Mohammad Tak now in late eighties is struggling hard in life to meet his both ends. He was running a provision store but due to his severe disability and forced by the circumstances had to wind up his business for known reasons. Similarly Mohammad Yousf Shah of Pazalpora who is in late forties also lost his limb is living in an abject poverty. In this massacre Abdul Gani Hajam also lost his limb who died few years back due to his deteriorated health conditions and severe disability. The other two survivors of this massacre, Ghulam Mohammad Pandit and Mohammad Shaban Rah also died recently due to both amputations and Streptococcus infection.

Mohammad Shaban have undergone several surgeries including the Excision in his leg was also done but all in vain and due to the poor and deteriorated physical condition and infection, last year Mohammad Shaban Rah finally lost his battle of life without getting justice. Being a part of this procession, I also got several bullets in my lower abdomen and both hands and got severely injured in this incident. This is what we all have gone through these years and despite the passage of twenty five years the massacre is still afresh in the minds of people, the victims are still seeking justice. But why I survived this massacre and why I am alive today because to tell this story of loss and bereavement and to unfold the grim details of the massacre so as to aware the new generations how we have suffered all these years of turmoil.


(Dr. Reyaz Ahmad Ganaie has done Ph.D from the Pondicherry Central University. He is an eye witness and a survivor of Bijbehara massacre.)



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