The Gool Massacre of Kashmiri Pandits

My Father Mr. Ashok Kumar Raina S/o Shivji Raina, native from Sopore(Baramulla Distt) was a great educationist, superb human being and a very loving father. As a person, he was very simple, down to earth, honest, tolerant, brave and very caring, He was M.Sc Physics (Electronics Hons.) from Agra Unversity. At a very young age of 23yrs, he was appointed as a Physics lecturer in Jr.College. He was very happy, the way his career was shaping. Routine transfers and new academic approaches were keeping his life busy. He was a responsible family man and created a nice balance between his personal and professional life.

In 1988, militancy had sneaked in our beautiful Kashap Land “Kashir”. There was Islamic terror spreading at a very fast pace and their motive was to spread hate, horror and scare in minorities particularly Kashmiri Pandits. Militants wanted to establish Nizama Mustafa. They started harassing and killing Kashmiri Pandits and also targetting Army and Airforce officials. Our Pro India sentiment was always mocked and crushed. In 1989 -90 under the sinister plan of ethnic cleansing, lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits were driven out from there homeland Kashmir. I remember me and my sister was sleeping and my father came and told us to get ready as we are leaving Kashmir. We got few suitcases ready and with the help of some local friends my father arranged Minibus for our family (me, my sister, my grandparents, my mother and father) left for Udhampur. I was 11 yrs old and my sister was 14 yrs. On the way, we saw thousands of KPs in trucks, cars, buses heading towards Jammu. My father told us that we are moving out of Kashmir because it is not the safe place for our community now, once things normalise we will come back, right now it is better to stay away from Kashmir.

It was a mass exodus and it was very painful. This was the story of every Kashmiri Pandit. We became migrants in our own country. We took refuge in Udhampur. The life of hardship and struggle started but in my heart, I was sure that we will see a better life as I considered my parents as heroes and knew that they will make it better for us. Every day I used to see the pain and agony in my grandparents and my parent’s eyes. Our usual schools started and we started adapting to different culture and climate.

Finally a good news after a long time, in Aug 1991 my father got promoted to the post of principal Hr. Sec School. It was a great achievement and a sense of pride for all of us that at 42yrs, he was given such a huge responsibility. At this age, he already had 21yrs of lecturership experience and that itself was a big achievement. Being a young officer he was posted to Kargil(Ladakh), one of the toughest location in India. He served in Kargil from 1991 – 1994. We always used to wait for winters when my father used to come back home, those days used to be the best days. He used to bring a variety of dry fruits and the famous and best one was kubani ( apricot). We used to eat lot of them

Meanwhile, during this time we shifted from Udhampur to Jammu. In 1994 my father completed his serving tenure of 3 yrs in Kargil and he was transferred to Jammu.
Along with my father, 14 other people were transferred back to Jammu. Almost all of them were adjusted in Jammu ; except my father .

He was given the new appointment, he was transferred to Gool (Ramban). There is a norm in J&K Govt who so ever serves in Ladakh for 3 yrs is given an easy and posting of his choice option. My father has already served in Ladakh for 3 yrs and he was transferred to Gool which was also a very tough posting. My father personally met with then education minister and highlighted this issue, but he told my father you are a very young and dynamic officer and you have to go.
My father was denied the fundamental right of posting of choice by the Minister. By rules, he was not entitled to have back to back tough postings. The only fault of his was that he was young. A criminality happened there by flaunting the said norms. My Grandfather told him not to go but my father was very dedicated to his work and finally, he joined at Gool.
Gool was basically a hilly terrain and there were traces of militancy in and around that area. Gool as an area was influenced by Hizbul Mujaheedin Group. My father started his work and started spreading education in that area. There were young Kashmiri Pandit lectures working with him. I remember in some seasons ,all of them had to walk more than 30 km to reach Gool. I have seen bruises and burns on my father’s feet, he was a tough and strong man, he never bothered and moved on.

The darkest day of our lives was just around the corner. My father had come for summer holidays, it was 14th June 1997, the next day my father was leaving for Gool.
In the evening, I and he took my grandmother to an optician and then we went to Shiv Mandir in Jammu. I had chat with my father on loads of topics and we came back home. Ravinderji and Sushilji came to our place to discuss with my father, the travel schedule for tomorrow, as all 3 of them were going back to Gool.

Next Day morning on 15 June 1997 my father left for Gool, it was very early in the morning I was fast asleep. I told my mother why didn’t you wake me up as I wanted to say Goodbye to him. I never knew that I will never be able to say Goodbye to my father. Next day morning me, my mother and my grandmother were sleeping .At around 4 am , bell rang and my mom opened the door .There were few police officers who told us that the bus my father was travelling in was attacked by militants and several people are injured. Me and my mother rushed to my uncle and my uncle went with them. At around 7 am it was across all the newspapers that 3 Kps were killed by militants in Gool. I lost my senses and the day was a long walk of sorrow and grief. Our family was devasted and shattered. In the evening the dead body came, thousands of people were outside our house. we saw him for the last time, I kissed his forehead and finally said goodbye. My sister was holding me and crying. Everyone was crying and my mind had stopped working. I remember even after taking 11 bullets his face looked calm, his body felt soft. At around 10:30 pm all the 3 martyrs were laid to rest in the flames of celestial bliss, OM Shanti. It was the death of humanity.

According to some eyewitness
The bus in which they were travelling was stopped by men in army uniform, 7 Kms from Gool. All Hindus were asked to step down. By then it was clear that they were not security forces but Islamic terrorists. There was some resistance from Muslim passengers, seeing this, terrorist said they are not going to harm them, their commander only wants to talk to them, they even swear by their Prophet and Holy book. 6 Hindus ( 4 KP’s and 2 Jammuites) were taken out of which 2 people escaped one by jumping off the cliff and other by running up a hill. The remaining 4 were made to walk 30 metres near the nullah and 3 Kashmiri Pandits were fired upon by terrorists and martyred and the 4th ( Jammunite ) was allowed to go. The Message was clear. KP’s are the target.

– Shri. Ashok Kumar Raina – Principal
– Shri. Ravindra Kabu – Lecturer
– Shri. Sushil Pandita – Sr.Teacher

So it was a planned targeted killing. He was killed because he was a Kashmiri Pandit. He was killed because he was doing his duty with utmost sincerity and honesty. He was killed because he was the symbol of Kashmir Pandit growth. This heinous crime was executed by Billu Gujjar of Hizbul Mujahideen and Amanullah Gujjar Group. A couple of months later he was killed by Security Forces.

It took me longtime time to understand that my mentor, my hero, my inspiration, my father, was not there with me anymore. I am sure he is watching me from the skies and keeps on blessing us ..Luv you and miss you always ..

By- Vikas Raina

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