HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH Behind the Kashmir Conflict: Abuses by Indian Security Forces and Militant Groups Continue



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Under Siege: Doda and the Border Districts

Militant Abuses in Doda and other Southern Districts

Attacks by militant groups on civilians in the Doda district escalated sharply in 1998. The attacks appear to have been motivated both by the militants' intention to drive Hindu residents from the area and to demonstrate to the Indian forces in Kashmir that despite the crackdown in the valley, they could continue to strike at will. In addition to these attacks, militant groups have laid landmines along roads used for civilian traffic. On July 14, 1998, Indian forces claimed to have defused a landmine planted along a route used by Hindus during an annual pilgrimage. According to a report by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the militant group, Harkat-ul Mujahideen, claimed to have planted the device and had warned Hindus not to make the journey.22

On June 19, 1998, twenty-five Hindu residents of Korra, a small village in Doda district, were killed by militant forces as they returned from a wedding in the village of Champnagri. Janak Raj, twenty-five, described the incident to Human Rights Watch:

After the wedding we went up to the roadside to wait for the bus by which we would return to our village. There were two wedding parties waiting there, and the men were standing separately from the women and children. We had been waiting for about fifteen minutes when suddenly five armed men showed up. At first we though they were soldiers. They were wearing uniforms [an apparent ruse], and they asked us, the men, for our ID cards. They were speaking in a Hindustani [Urdu] language. We showed them our cards. They lined us up in two lines. Then they told us to hand them over everything we had. The moment we started opening our bags, they opened fire at us with their rifles. I was standing in the line, and the person next to me was hit and toppled against and over me. This is how I was saved. I was not hit, and lay below my friend. I remained conscious, and stayed down for fifteen minutes. I don't know what happened to the armed men.Then a boy of about ten started crying: "What happened? What happened?" So I got up. I don't know where he was or wherethe women were. There was nobody there. Everybody had run away. There is a village some three kilometers nearby, Ganika. So I went there. A bit up from the road from there, there is an army picket. First the police came, and then the army. A total of twenty-five men were killed.23

No group claimed responsibility for the attack. However, according to Superintendent of Police Munir Khan, the leader of the group responsible was a militant called Siraj Din, code name Mansour, of the Harakat-ul Ansar. He was a local from the village of Kotal. At the time of the interview he had been arrested and was in prison in Jammu.24

The incident was one of a series of such attacks that occurred in 1998.25 On April 19, 1998, unidentified gunmen killed twenty-seven members of several Hindu families, including eleven children, in the village of Prankote, in Udhampur. The attackers also set fire to a number of houses. According to a report in the Washington Post, the attackers used scythes and axes to carry out the killings. One teenaged girl was also raped and then set on fire. She later died from her burns.26

On July 28, 1998 , at least sixteen Hindu villagers were killed in two separate attacks in the villages of Thakrai and Sarwan in Doda district. Most were killed in their homes by gunmen who opened fire with automatic weapons. On August 1, 1998, at least four Hindus were killed and one injured when militants attacked a village in Udhampur district.27

22 BBC World Service, "Muslim militants plant land mine in Kashmir," July 14, 1998, at

23 Interview in Doda, October 23, 1998.

24 Interview with Superintendent Munir Khan in Doda, October 23, 1998.

25 There have been similar incidents outside of of Doda. See below, "Abuses by Militants in the Valley."

26 Kenneth J. Cooper, "Attacks on Hindus Spur India to Target Kashmir Insurgents," Washington Post, July 6, 1998; Harinder Baweja, "Hired Guns," India Today, My 4, 1998; BBC World Service, "Gunmen kill 13 Hindus in north India," April 19, 1998,

27 BBC World Service, "Gunmen kill 13 Hindus in north India," April 19, 1998; "Sixteen Killed in Indian Kashmir Attacks," July 28, 1998; "Changing Face of Kashmiri militancy," August 4, 1998,



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