Chattisingpora: A Massacre, Its Lone Survivor and Its Aftermath

The final memory that Nanak Singh has of his teenage son is a bloodied hand fondling his face, while both of them lay bullet-ridden near the village Gurudwara.

On a cloudy evening of March 20, 2000, Chattisingpora, a hilltop hamlet in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district, became the site of a massacre that claimed the lives of 36 men and children of the region’s minority Sikh community.

“We were ordered to come out of our houses and line up near the village’s two Gurudwaras by gunmen wearing camouflage,” Nanak Singh told The Wire. He is a retired government employee, now in his 50s. Soon, he said, the gunmen began to empty their rifles at the terrified and clueless civilians.“The firing continued for ten minutes and after the first round, they reloaded their guns and shot at the bodies on the ground so as to leave no survivors. It is a miracle that only one bullet hit me in the hip.”

Nanak was the only survivor of the carnage. His son, Gurmeet Singh, and his brother were among those killed.

For over half an hour after the gunmen left, no one dared to come out of their houses.

While Nanak howled in pain and thirst, his cousin Sartaj Singh, himself shot in the chest, helped carry him home. “Sartaj’s life could have been saved if there was any first aid,” Nanak says. “He was one of the bravest men in the village.”