25 Jan 1998: When unidentified gunmen killed 23 Kashmiri Pandits

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Srinagar, Jan 25: The unknown persons responsible for the killing of 23 Kashmiri Pandits at Wandhama Ganderbal on this day (January 25) some 21 years ago are still ‘untraceable’.
On 25 January 1998, 23 Kashmiri Pandits living in the village of Wandhama were killed by unidentified gunmen. According to the testimony of one of the survivors of the incident, a Pandit boy named Vinod Kuman Dhar, the gunmen came to their house dressed like Indian Army soldiers, had tea with them, waiting for a radio message indicating that all Pandit families in the village had been covered. After a brief conversation they rounded up all the members of the Pandit households and then summarily gunned them down with AK 47 rifles. The slain Pandits had chosen to stay in Valley despite the fact majority of their community members had migrated to Jammu.
The locals of Wandahama village are still tight lipped over the massacre saying they don’t know who butchered their Pandit neighbours. “Everyone was busy in prayers. It was a blessed night of ‘Qadar’ when news about the massacre spread in the village,” said a local. However, Government held militants responsible for the massacre and claimed that all the militants involved in blood bath were killed in encounters with soldiers.
The incident had occurred during Farooq Abdullah’s Government and the case was closed when Omar Abdullah was ruling the state. The police investigation had stated that the killing was carried out by Harkat-ul-Ansar outfit.
In February 1998, police had said six militants of Harkat-ul-Ansar were killed in Safapora area of Ganderbal and another injured militant was apprehended.
“On interrogation the injured militant before his death, according to the police, divulged about involvement of 21 members of Harkat-ul-Ansar in killing of the victims.
A leader from Pandit community said the police also claimed that 13 other foreign militants who were involved in the massacre were killed later. (CNS)