Today this day, what happened?
On March 20, 2000, 35 Sikh men were shot at by a group of masked gunmen in army fatigues at point-blank range in the Sikh dominated area of Chittisinghpura in Kashmir's Anantnag district.
Almost everyone from the village all along has recalled the horrific incident the same way. Assailants suddenly turned up in the little hamlet of south Kashmir at around 7.30 pm, lined up men in front of the two gurudwaras on the pretext of a crackdown, fired brutally at point-blank range and then disappeared just like they came.
The lone survivor of the attack Nanak Singh, then 39, said in an interview to Firstpost a couple of years ago, "It was a huge group with one leader giving them directions. They broke into two parties and lined up men in front of the two gurudwaras. One of them fired in the air, a signal to the other group to get ready to kill and then they shot indiscriminately at us." While one group had managed to line up 19 men, the other group of gunmen had 17 men in front, which included youngsters as well.
As per several accounts narrated by him, after a few minutes of continuous firing, when all men had fallen on the ground, there was another round of firing to ensure that everybody had died. A bullet hit the leg and thigh of Nanak Singh and he bled profusely and played dead.
He lost his brother, son and three cousins that evening and later, couldn't attend his son's last rites. By the method, mistake or ignorance, but a system where minorities feel insecure, unprotected and alienated, has a lot of remedial steps to take and soul searching to do.
Have the guilty been punished?
Nanak Singh admits to having heard three names, "While the gunmen were conversing, I had heard three names --- Pawan, Bhansi and Bahadur. I don't know if these names were real or fake, but they still reverberate in my ear," he added in the same interview. By now, he is used to having given countless interviews, recounting the incident again and again, in front of courts, in front of police.
Only one inquiry, political mudslinging and two decades later ...
There's no dearth of organisations and institutions trying to colour human loss and tragedy to suit their agendas and narrative.
While the Indian Army has claimed that it was Pakistan sponsored, and that, "Pakistan-backed terrorists of the dreaded Islamic fundamentalist group Lashkar-e-Taiba," was behind the attack, in 2017 Retd Lt Gen KS Gill said on record that the Indian Army was allegedly involved in the massacre. Lt Gen Gill, who was also a part of the investigation, also said in an interview to Sikh News Express that a report had been submitted to then Home Minister L.K. Advani.
One explanation, as investigated by several independent journalists, goes that both Kashmiri Sikhs and Muslims believe it was the handiwork of 'agencies' to show then visiting US President Bill Clinton that Kashmir was unsafe for minorities.
An investigative report, a fake encounter ...
An investigative report by India Today said that "foreigner members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba who executed the massacre came dressed as Indian soldiers." The Army's Rashtriya Rifles claimed to kill five foreign terrorists, who later turned out to be locals from the infamous Pathribal Fake Encounter Case.
Like with several other massacres and genocides in the country, nothing has come out of it, other than the motivated inquiries and lip service. Nanak Singh maintains it was a premeditated massacre and that he has lost hope of justice.
➡️ThisDayThatYear :- 20 March 2000— Chinar Corps? - Indian Army (@ChinarcorpsIA) March 20, 2021
Terrorists massacred 35 Sikhs at Chhathi Singhpura, #Anantnag. The villagers were celebrating #Holi when LeT terrorists marshaled them in front of Gurdwara and shot them dead. India remembers. #Kashmirilivesmatter #KashmirBleeds @adgpi pic.twitter.com/vPmbgTHHkh