On March 20, 2000, in the backdrop of the then President of the United States, Bill Clinton’s visit to India, 35 members of the Minority Sikh community in Jammu and Kashmir were gunned down in the Chittisinghpura village of Anantnag district of Kashmir.
The army claimed that it was the handiwork of the “Pakistan-backed terrorists of the Islamic Fundamentalist group Lashkar-e-Taiba”.
A report titled ‘Terrorists execute first Sikh massacre in Kashmir Valley, signal fresh ethnic cleansing’ by New Delhi based India Today, claimed that “the foreigner members of the Lashkar-e-Toiba who executed the massacre came dressed as Indian soldiers, complete with fake or stolen uniforms”.
The Army’s Rashtiya Rifles later claimed to kill five “foreign terrorists” which turned out to be locals, in what is called the Pathribal Fake Encounter Case.
The economic times reported that “The CBI had in 2006 indicted five men of the Rastriya Rifles for allegedly killing five civilians, of whom three were dubbed as Pakistani terrorists responsible for the massacre of 36 Sikhs at Chittisinghpura area of Anantnag district. Two other civilians were allegedly claimed to be unknown terrorists.”
In 2017, Retd Lt Gen KS Gill, who was part of the investigation, in an interview to Sikh News Express, told Journalist Jasneet Singh that the Indian Army was involved in the massacre and the report had been submitted to L.K.Advani who was the Home Minister in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government then.
Read the excerpt of the interview here:
When in 2000 the massacre of 35 Sikhs happened in ChittiSinghpura, what really happened there?
It was the mischief of the surrendered militants. The army was using the surrendered militants that time to fight, to sacrifice these surrendered militants instead of themselves. In that area (of ChittiSinghpura), where Maharaja Ranjit Singh had settled Sikhs, and given them lands, and orchards, these surrendered militants hatched a plot and the army soldiers helped them… The army was guilty, not the commanders, but till the Captain level.
What they did was to take the men out in the middle of the night. Before they did that, they gained the confidence of the Sikhs there. Then one night they finally gunned them down.
If the army was involved, was there any action?
The full report was prepared. We said the army was involved. We asked for a judge of the Supreme Court to look at it. Nothing happened, Farooq Abdullah’s government was there which also formed an organization to investigate. There was chaos… Police had to shoot at people. Then the government decided not to investigate
That time the NDA was in government?
Yes. Advani was the Home Minister. We gave the first report to him… Clinton (who was on a visit to India) kicked up a row, saying that ‘due to me a lot of lives have been lost. I want to know exactly what happened.’
Then Human Rights organisation of the United Nations was sent a report of what happened, and the Americans too.
Were there any political reasons behind the killings?
Only this that the BJP government wanted to tell Clinton that in Jammu and Kashmir Pakistan is killing people. Propaganda against Pakistan. That Pakistan killed Sikhs.
So BJP planted this to impress Clinton?
Yes, to help India against Pakistan. That time America was providing arms to Pakistan. India was not getting any aid.
Sikhs became the victims. See when the order is passed, Home Minster tells the Chief Minster (Farooq Abdullah), he tells the Director General of Police, he tells the SP, by that time it’s mishandled. On the lower level, old enmities play a role. When things got out of control, Advani pressurised for something to be shown, to pin it on Pakistan. Then the army killed five innocent Kashmiris on a mountain to show that we killed those who attacked the Sikhs. But they killed innocent boys.
Watch the full interview here:
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