The morning of 1st April 1993 brought another mourning in Kashmir when a bullet-ridden human corpse was found in the Bachpora area of Srinagar. It had been lying face down. The children of the area had turned it over. The body was lying in a pool of blood. An entry bullet wound could be seen on the right and another wound on the left of the neck from where the bullet had left. There was also a bullet wound in the left chest and another in the head.
Only a month before this incident in Kashmir, the land where discoveries of such bullet-ridden bodies weren’t an uncommon thing, Dr. Farooq Ahmad Ashai had been assassinated. Dr. Farooq Ahmad Ashai was a faculty member (Head of Orthopaedics Department) at Government Medical College, Srinagar and was Chief Orthopedic Surgeon at the Bone and Joint Hospital in Srinagar. He was fired upon by CRPF on 18th February 1993 while he was returning from his brother’s home.  According to Asia Watch, Dr. Farooq Ahmad Ashai frequently met with foreign journalists and human rights representatives and acted as spokesperson for injured civilians in Kashmir. He performed bullet injuries for the armed fighters which had angered the government, so he was gunned down.
And just two months before the assassination of Dr. Farooq Ahmad Ashai, another bullet-ridden dead body of a human rights activist namely Hardai Nath Wanchoo was found in a similar way in Srinagar. Despite the fact that H.N. Wanchoo, who was passing on information about hundreds of killings, disappearances and illegal detentions in Kashmir to the international press and international human rights groups, was a threat to none but India, the Indian government held Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen responsible for this killing. However, Asia Watch during its investigation was told by a government official that “Wanchoo was killed on the orders of Governor Girish Saxena, and that those orders were carried out under the direction of the Inspector General of the BSF, Ashok Patel.” 
This time the victim was Kashmir’s renowned Cardiologist, Dr. Abdul Ahad Guru. Dr. Abdul Ahad Guru, a graduate of All India Institute of Medical Sciences was the first Kashmiri who had specialized in cardiovascular and thoracic surgery. He was also the first Kashmiri to perform open-heart surgery. Dr. Guru was also on board of the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, Srinagar. Besides, he was also a member of the governing council of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front.
Dr. Abdul Ahad Guru was widely respected by the cadres of all the armed groups working in Kashmir. For this reason, he was often approached to act as a channel between the armed fighters and the government. On two separate occasions, he negotiated the releases of the daughters of Mufti Saeed and Saifuddin Soz. And like Wanchoo, Dr. Ahad Guru strongly criticized the Indian Government for human rights abuses in Kashmir and frequently met the international press and international human rights groups to tell them about the victims of brutal torture whom he had treated in his hospital. For instance, he met a delegation from Amnesty International in November 1992 to whom he described the methods of routine torture used by the security forces. 
Since Dr. Guru and H.N. Wanchoo were doing a similar job i.e. to expose Indian crimes in Kashmir, they were killed in a similar manner i.e. first abducted and then thrown somewhere else after being murdered. It was normal that the Indian government’s reaction, after both the deaths was also the same. The Indian Government blamed Hizbul Mujahideen for the Dr. Ahad Guru’s assassination.
However, the people of Kashmir refused to accept these allegations on the armed fighters. On 18th April 1993 the New York Times reported: “Although each of these men was a foe of the Indian Government, there is no conclusive proof that who killed Mr. Wanchoo and Dr. Ahad Guru. But in the Valley and in Srinagar, the people are firmly convinced that they were assassinated by the Government to end their determined publicizing of Government atrocities .” 
Did Hizbul Mujahideen assassinate Dr. Abdul Ahad Guru?
The Government of India had blamed Hizbul Mujahideen for the murder but when the matter was jointly investigated by Asia Watch and Physicians for Human Rights, the Government’s version of the story came out to be absolutely false. For example, the government had stated that “Dr. Guru’s killing, was the work of the Hizbul Mujahideen, a pro-Pakistani fundamentalist group which has a running battle with the JKLF to which Dr. Guru was aligned. Only 15 days before this incident, there were cases of kidnappings and killings of important personalities as a result of this rivalry.” 
However, “a source familiar with both organizations told Asia Watch that Dr. Guru actually had good relations with the Hizbul Mujahideen.”, wrote Asia Watch. 
Asia Watch further says, “Government sources have claimed that Dr. Guru was targeted because he was involved in negotiations with Minister of State for Internal Security, Rajesh Pilot and others about a political settlement to the conflict. However, in a letter dated April 7, 1993, to Dr. Guru’s son expressing condolences on the death of his father, Minister Pilot stated that he never met Dr. Guru.” 
It should be recalled that “Days before Dr. Guru was murdered, on March 25, 1993, a report by correspondent Chandra Mitra in the Hindustan Times publicly disclosed that Dr. Guru had met with Minister of State for Internal Security Rajesh Pilot and other government contacts as part of an effort negotiate a political settlement to the conflict. Unnamed government sources were cited in the press report.”  But, “some sources told Asia Watch that information about the negotiations may have been deliberately planted to discredit the named individuals.” 
One thing that is clear from the above investigations by Asia Watch and PHR is that the story of Rajesh Pilot was deliberately cooked to give the assassination a real look.
The mystery of the murder was solved when former Indian Minister Wajahat Habibullah, who also served as Chief Information Commissioner of India and Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir exposed the conspiracy in his book. He writes;
“In April 1993, the chief ideologue of the JKLF, Dr. Abdul Ahad Guru, was kidnapped and brutally murdered…Guru, a leading Srinagar physician who had founded a medical college, had commanded wide respect; he presented a reasonable face of separatism. He was, therefore, an inconvenience to the police. The police made an arrangement with the terrorist Zulqarnain, then in custody, who agreed to kill Guru in exchange for his release. But to ensure that this collusion remained secret, Zulqarnain was killed shortly thereafter, and the director-general of police, B.S. Bedi, trumpeted his death as a triumph for the security forces, who had killed a dangerous terrorist in an armed encounter. But the truth was somewhat different. Instead of killing Zulqarnain in an armed encounter, the police stormed the home where, under the mistaken presumption that he was safe after having fulfilled his end of the bargain, he was consorting with a lady friend.” 
In connection to this topic, Nandita Haksar, the daughter of P.N. Haksar has this to say:
“Dr. Guru’s body was found about a kilometer from the security post. This would indicate that the Indian state had been involved in this murder; the militants would not have carried out the assassination near an Indian army check post.” 
In addition to the investigations by Asia Watch and PHR and the confession by Wajahat Habibullah, the following facts must be taken into account. First of all, as already mentioned above, Dr. Guru was widely respected by all the armed groups and was very close to HM, so no one claimed the responsibility for his murder. Hizbul Mujahideen, in fact, had condemned this killing. Secondly, it is pertinent to note that just after the murder, JKLF the group to which he was associated, flatly denied the police claim and charged “that Indian forces were responsible for abducting and killing him”.  Thirdly, Dr. Guru was in good terms with everyone except India. Twice they had attempted to kill him. On October 9, 1992, Indian troops had shot at his clinic; on August 7, they had shot into his house, injuring his nephew.  Dr. Guru had told the Asia Watch and PHR that he was repeatedly harassed and assaulted by the Indian forces and that he believed he had been under surveillance for a number of months.  Fourthly, the killing not only had removed the troublesome doctor for India, but it could have created rifts between JKLF and HM. According to a famous political scientist, Robert G. Wirsing, this killing provided India “one such opportunity for leveraging one side against the other.”  However, both outfits apparently didn’t fall prey to this plan and entered into a treaty in which they decided to support each other against India on the very next day of this incident.
Lastly, although this voice from Barzullah had been silenced forever but even the dead Guru was a threat to the authorities. When his funeral procession started from the Soura Institute of Medical Sciences, the Indian forces stopped the people at the gate and demanded to hand over his dead body to them. People refused and the forces opened fire upon them. The forces again opened fire on the crowd when it reached Dr. Guru’s residence shooting his brother-in-law, Ashiq Hussain, straight in the head and wounding several others. 
27 years on, like the families of H.N. Wanchoo, Dr. Farooq Ashai and thousands of others who became the victims of Indian state terrorism in Kashmir, the blood relatives of Dr. Ahad Guru and Ashiq Hussain still await justice but India has never made public any action taken by her to investigate the killings and has never put to trail those who were responsible.
Notes & References:
- Asia Watch and Physicians for Human Rights, The Human Rights Crisis in Kashmir: a Pattern of Impunity, 1993. Page. 68
“Official statements have maintained that Dr. Ashai was killed in “crossfire.” But according to Dr. Ashai’s wife and daughter, and other witnesses, there was no attack at the time they crossed the bridge.”
- Ibid. 139.
- Amnesty International, UA 97/93 – India: Fear of Extrajudicial Execution, April 2, 1993.
Amnesty International at the time of the assassination had also stated, “Dr. Guru was deeply concerned and often spoke about the many victims of brutal torture treated in his hospital and there is a distinct possibility that he may be one more victim of extrajudicial execution by the security forces or their agents for his political or human rights activities.”
- Edward A. Gargan, Indian Troops are Blamed as Kashmir Violence Rise, New York Times April 18, 1993.
- Asia Watch and PHR, op. cit. 143.
- Ibid. 144.
- Wajahat Habibullah, My Kashmir: Conflict and the Prospects of Enduring Peace, Vanguard Books (Pakistan), pp. 81-82
- Nandita Haskar, The Many Faces of Kashmiri Nationalism: From Cold war to the Present Day, Speaking Tiger Books (India), p. 127
- United Press International, April 1, 1993.
- Asia Watch and PHR, op cit. 144
- Ibid. 145
- Robert G. Wirsing, India Pakistan and the Kashmir Dispute, Rupa and co. p. 133.
- Khawaja Sanaullah Butt, Ehd Nama-e-Kashmir, Ali Muhammad and Sons Publishers, 1996, page. 268.
Disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the editor of the Kashmir Discourse.
Author hails from AJK, Pakistan and is a medical student at Rawalpindi Medical University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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