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J&K: Kulhand residents recount militant horror

By Anil Bhatt in Kulhand (J&K)
May 06, 2006 10:31 IST
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Bhod Raj and Gian Singh will never forget the night when a group of militants herded them along with other Hindu residents of Kulhand village into two small rooms and unleashed a volley of bullets that left 19 people dead.

Nearly a week after the incident, a shocked Bhod Raj keeps mumbling about bullet-riddled bodies in a room whose walls were streaked with blood.

"I am alive today because the others received my share of of the bullets fired by those brutes," Bhod Raj told a visiting PTI correspondent.

"I have nightmares of the bloodstained bodies that haunt me every night," he said.

In the early hours of May 1, all Hindu residents of two hamlets at Kulhand were bundled into the mud houses of two village chiefs by militants, who then opened fire on the cowering villagers with automatic weapons.

Bhod Raj remembers crouching in a corner of the room in village chief Gopi Chand's house. As the bullets flew in all directions, he pretended to be dead, lying under other bodies and not moving for two hours till the sound of the footsteps of the militants had faded away.

Gian Singh, who was in the home of another village chief Jagdish Raj, fell unconscious due to shock when the militants opened fire.

"I kept chanting Om Namah Shivay," said Bhod Raj, the sole breadwinner of a family comprising his wife, four children and his aged parents.

"I will migrate from Kulhand as the militants know I am still alive," Raj said.

Singh said he had done nothing to help those who lay dying around him, simply because he was too shocked.

"I could have done something, but my brain did not work at all. All I could do was weep," he said.

While 11 Hindus were killed at Gopi Chand's house, eight more were gunned down at Jagdish Raj's home.

"My two brothers were killed by the terrorists at Gopi Chand's house. I curse the killers," said 67-year-old Savitri, who came to Kulhand from Billawar in Kathua district.

"We cannot sleep at night as the hills reverberate with the cries and screams of those whose relatives were killed," Chand's widow Bimal Devi said.

The homes of the two village chiefs have been turned into makeshift memorials for the dead and many locals visit their kin to express solidarity.

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Anil Bhatt in Kulhand (J&K)
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