Today is 74th Anniversary of Skardu massacre

Ramesh Tamiri

About 20 yeas ago, as I entered the newly built house of my friend my eyes fell on this photograph. My friend revealed that the man mounted on horse was his nana, Amarnath Muthoo. He was killed by Pakistanis in cold blood along with other staff of J&K Government.

Amarnath Muthoo was posted as Sub-Inspector Police, Skardu in early 1947. There was an outbreak of sectarian tension following Ahli-Hadith-Shia tension and the state government had acted promptly by posting an efficient Police officer. Besides controlling the situation efficiently he had also endeared himself to the common public in areas adjoining Askardu.

It was Wednesday 11 February 1948 when Pakistanis launched an attack on Skardu.They killed in cold blood Wazir Wazarat, Amar Nath Mahajan, Engineer BL Gupta, PA Dina Nath Handoo, his pregnant wife and 9 year old daughter, a cop from the Sikh community and Amar Nath Muthoo. Soon after the attack Wazir proceeded towards the treasury and asked a Sikh constable and Amar Nath Muthoo to accompany him. Wazir was tortured and then shot dead by Sarfraz Khan of 6th J&K Infantry. After the first burst Amar Nath shouted, “Brute, you have killed an innocent person.’’ Sarfraz then shot dead Amarnath and the constable. It was also a signal for the massacre that followed. A little away from Wazarat, Headmaster Jia Lal Warikoo was hacked to death. Niranjan Nath Nadir survived strangulation that left his voice permanently impaired.

Ramesh Tamiri is a scholar and expert on Kashmiri affairs.

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