December 8
The Rubaiya episode
December 9
Bitter Memories
December 10
The rulers, their doings
December 11
This man saw it all
December 14
Homeless in homeland
December 15
The UN stand
December 16
Wronged rights
December 17
Reviving the economy
December 18
How much longer?

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Day 5: December 13
Victims of the gun

Then they heard the shots...
Sangrampura. September 21, 1997 Somnath remembers the youth who came to his village in Budgam late in the evening. With him was a group of men in army fatigues.

The youth wanted to meet schoolteacher Bhushan Lal, one of the Pandits in the village. Unfortunately for him, Lal was at home. Somnath doesn't know what exactly transpired between the two. But the result was that Lal and eight other Pandits walked downhill to where the army personnel were waiting. Probably, the youth had said the army wanted to talk to Lal.

The villagers were by now out of their houses, watching. They saw the men being led down, they saw them disappearing... then they heard the shots and nine more Pandits were killed.

The men below were no army personnel. They belonged to the Hizbul Mujahideen.

When there's life, there's hope
Pahalgam. July 3-4, 1995
Hope lives on even after four years.

Julie Mangan, Briton Keith Mangan's wife, and her sisters in sorrow still await the return of their loved ones.

On July 3-4, 1995, militants had kidnapped Americans John Childs and Donald Hutching, Britons Paul Wells, his girlfriend Catherine Moseley, Keith, his wife Julie, German Dirk Hasert, his wife Anna, and Norwegian Hans Christian Ostro from the higher reaches of Pahalgam. Julie, Catherine and Anna were later released. Childs managed to escape.

The rest were whisked away, from village to village, by the outfit that went by the name Al Faran. Their ransom: the release of 21 jailed militants.

Negotiations started. On August 16, villagers gathering firewood in Panzmulla found the decapitated body of a foreigner, his bloodied head on his lap: Ostro had been killed by his captors.

Negotiations continued, spilling over to the next month and the next and the next. On November 26, for the last time Al Faran contacted the Indian authorities.

After that, silence. Four years down the line the relatives of the hostages still wait.

For news, one way or other.

'Don't come outside or we'll kill you'
Srinagar. July 31, 1992 Tajuddin Ahmed Farooqi, 18, and his brother Itiazuddin, 14, died because they were home that evening.

Around 1900 hours, as they were glued to the television at their Lal Bazaar home, they heard gunshots outside. Nothing extraordinary, that. Firings were only too common those days.

Which was why Itiazuddin opened the door without hesitation when someone knocked -- and fell dead before he could complete the act, shot through the chest.

The BSF personnel who barged in shot him twice more in the head. When Tajuddin tried to reach his brother, the soldier, his face masked by a black scarf, dragged him outside the gate. There he was shot thrice in the abdomen.

"Don't come outside or we will kill you," he told Tajuddin's petrified sister and mother as he joined his colleagues.

An inquiry was to identify later what cost the family two lives: militants had ambushed a BSF vehicle, killing one and injuring six. The security personnel wanted revenge.

Tajuddin and Itiazuddin were conveniently at home.

His blood soaked the rice...
Srinagar. March 19, 1990
The incessantly ringing telephone on March 18 was his death knell.

Perhaps B K Ganju recognised it for what it was. A telecom engineer and a Pandit (hence a high-profile target), he had been warned earlier that his name was on the list of persons to be killed. Too terrified to act, he let the phone ring...

In the morning someone knocked on the door. That sound galvanised the terrified man into action. He grabbed the phone, the same instrument that had tortured him through the night, and tried to call the police. But it was too late.

Hearing the door being forced open, he ran on to the roof. There was a drum for storing rice there. Ganju hid in it. The militants searched the house. Not finding him, they left.

Only to return within minutes. Apparently an accomplice had spotted Ganju. This time the militants went straight to the roof and pumped the drum with bullets.

Ganju died in it, his blood soaking the rice.

'Oh, my god, have you killed my son?'
Srinagar. May, 1990
Zahoor Javed lived in an upper middle class residential area on Nagin Lake in Srinagar. One summer day a little after Mirwaiz Maulvi Farooq's killing, he left for the local shrine.

He did not return. Instead a group of policemen arrived at his home. Javed's father, who retired as a deputy inspector general, immediately knew something was wrong.

"They looked so ashamed that they found it hard to speak," he told journalist Tavleen Singh two days later, "I rushed out and started asking, 'What has happened? What have you done? Is it something to do with Javed? Have you killed him? Oh, my god, have you killed my son?'"

They had. Not the policemen, but their cousins in the paramilitary. Javed had been praying when yet another round of firing began. He rushed out and was stopped by the paramilitary. He produced his identity card.

The security personnel's response was typical of that year. They told him to run, witnesses say. And as he ran they shot him in the back.

The agents of the 'enemy'
Srinagar. January 25, 1990
Squadron Leader Ravi Khanna's misfortune was that he was in uniform.

That winter morning nine years ago, he and his colleagues were waiting near the Rawalpura bus stand. An Indian Air Force bus was to reach them to the airport. At around 0730 hours a Maruti Gypsy and a two-wheeler carrying four to five Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front militants drew up.

The next thing that Khanna knew was bullets pumping into his body. That was the last thing he knew.

Around him 13 more IAF men fell. Three of them dead, 10 were injured.

Hardly 50 yards away was a Jammu and Kashmir police picket, manned by a head constable and seven subordinates. Their eight .303 rifles remained silent as the militants finished emptying their weapons and, taking a clockwise circuit of the roundabout ahead, vanished unhurriedly into Srinagar's numerous back lanes.

Even after he gave up the gun, JKLF leader Yasin Malik was to defend the killings: The IAF personnel were not innocent victims. They were the agents of the 'enemy'.

Day 6, December 14: Homeless in their homeland
What will it take to bring Kashmir's migrant Hindus home?

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