The Institute of Kashmir Studies (IKS) conducted a detailed study on the Lal-Chowk Arson, immediately after its incidence. The IKS team visited the area and compiled a report on arson and mayhem by the Indian Border Security Force (BSF). The report has documented testimonies of victims, and statements of witnesses present on spot, and also identified the perpetrators of the Massacre.
The Lal-Chowk massacre of 1993 is still considered one of the grisliest incidents of brutality and gross human rights violations committed by the Indian Occupying Forces (IOF) in Indian-Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJK). On 10th April 1993, a large neighbourhood of Srinagar’s city center known as Lal-Chowk was burned to the ground by a contingent of the BSF. More than 60 houses, 5 commercial buildings, 150 shops, 2 official buildings, shrines, and schools were burnt to ashes. A total of 47 innocent civilians were charred to death and over 125 were killed by BSF. This massacre was perpetrated as part of a systematic policy of repression by the government of India. India has purposefully adopted laws and policies that systematically marginalize Muslims in Kashmir and India.
The Lal-Chowk incident is not an isolated event, as there have been multiple instances in which IOF have caused harm to unarmed civilians, including violence against women, destruction of homes and businesses, and imprisonment of both armed rebels and civilians. Gawkadal, Sopore, Kupwara, Bijbehara, and Handwara massacres are a few of the countless massacres documented and undocumented perpetrated by IOF in IOJK over the past three decades. This pattern of systemic violence has been ongoing and is likely to continue. Due to the frequency and extent of these incidents, it is nearly impossible to document all the human suffering that occurs.
The incident is a stark reminder of the violence and unrest that has plagued the region for decades. Despite the passage of 3 decades, those who experienced the tragedy continue to feel its impact. It is crucial to commemorate this event as a reminder of the human cost of conflict and violence. As we reflect on this tragedy, let us renew our commitment to resolve the issues that continue to afflict the Kashmir region, and ensure the right to self-determination to the people of IOJK as enshrined in more than a dozen UN resolutions on the Kashmir issue.
This fact-finding report compiled by the Institute of Kashmir Studies – IKS is an eye-opener to the world that India and its occupying forces have a history of perpetrating war crimes and crimes against humanity in IOJK. Legal Forum for Kashmir – LFK has archived several investigative reports that have donned invisibility. Our aim is to bring such work into the public domain. This report on the Lal-Chowk Arson is an attempt to disseminate the defiant work carried out by IKS.