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24 Pandits killed in Kashmir

March 24, 2003 11:29 IST

At least 24 Kashmiri Pandits were killed at Nadimarg village near Shopian in Pulwama district around midnight.

Kashmir range police chief K Rajendra told that militants came to the village, 75 kilometres from Srinagar, late Sunday night and disarmed the policemen guarding the Pandits. One version said the militants were dressed in police uniforms.

"They first snatched the policemen's weapons and later fired indiscriminately on the Pandits. The police has recovered 24 bodies so far," Rajendra said.

Eleven women, eleven men and two children were killed by the militants who numbered about 25. The village has 11 Pandit families, comprising 52 people.

Some policemen reached the police station at Shopian and informed their superiors about the incident, he said.

The area has been cordoned off and massive search operations mounted. Police sources said the gunmen snatched weapons including four self loading rifles from the policemen guarding the Pandits.

The killings are a setback for Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed's plans to establish a safe haven for members of the Kashmiri Pandit community driven out of Kashmir by militancy in the valley. The state government had drawn up plans to settle the Pandits around the holy spring shrine at Tullamullah in Srinagar district and Mattan in south Kashmir's Anantnag district.

After the January 26, 1998 massacre of 23 Kashmiri Pandits at Wandhama, Pandit villages have been provided security by the state government.

Sources said the Pandits living in Nadimarg had not migrated to Jammu and stayed back in their village. Nearly 5,000 members of the community continue to live in the Kashmir valley.

The victims:

Bansi Lal(30)
Chand Rani (60)
Prince (23)
Geeta Devi(45)
Suman Ji 925)
Lassa Koul (70)
Bibi Ji (22)
Girja (23)
Suraj (4 )
Preetima Kumari (25)
Reshi Koul (23)
Devika (70)
Radha Krishan (55)
Bansi Lal (65)
Triloki Nath (60)
Avtar Krishan (70)
Mohan Lal (60)
Rakesh Kumar (29)
Lok Nath (55)
Omeet (29)
Praduman Krishan (60)

Mukhtar Ahmad In Srinagar