This day in 1993: When Border Security Forces massacred 57 civilians in Sopore and set the town on fire

January 6 shall always remain haunting the minds of the people of Sopore for the dread and blood they went through in 1993. It was one of the worst massacres the valley of Kashmir witnessed since the eruption of armed militancy against India rule in the state. At least 57 people were killed—all of them unarmed civilians—when border security forces (BSF) fired their weapons indiscriminately into a crowd. They rampaged through the market setting buildings ablaze and shooting bystanders.

The BSF men were enraged by the shooting of one of their colleagues in a hit-and-run style by militants. Among the dead, many had been burnt alive. According to local residents, who witnessed the carnage, said that, the out-of-control BSF fired at Bandipora-bound government bus (JKY-1901) and killed 20 passengers besides wounding several others.

Five persons travelling in a car (JK 6075) were killed when he car was fired at and subsequently set on fire. A father-son duo was killed when they were hit by bullets while loading a truck at Iqbal Market.

Around 400 shops and business establishments and 75 residential houses were set ablaze by the troopers by sprinkling gunpowder and petrol, according to locals. Five localities including Shalpora, Shahabad, Muslim pErr, Kralteng and Arampora were sent into ashes. The firemen who had rushed to the spot were not allowed to extinguish the flames. They started fire-fighting operation only after the BSF men left. Flames and thick clouds of smoke from the fire-ravaged structures were billowing out till late evening, the local residents recall. The maximum casualties were reported due to the fire and firing incidents.

The local residents regard the incident as one of the worst massacres in the history of Kashmir.

Time Magazine, in a column on the gory incident under the headline “blood tide rising” wrote “It was India’s latest blow in a three-year campaign to crush the predominantly Muslim state’s bid for independence”.

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