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Sopore (Sopur in Kashmiri) is a major town in Baramulla Districtmarker in Indian-administered Kashmirmarker. It is 35 miles north-west from Srinagarmarker, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmirmarker. The place is famous for its apples, which are considered among the best in Kashmirmarker.

History

Sopore was founded by the famous Utpala engineer and irrigation minister Suyya during the peaceful reign of king Avantivarman in 880 AD. Actually the word Sopore comes from Suyya-pur. Till the end of 14th Century the town did not observe any significant growth. It was after independence that Sopur was a rapid rise in population and expansion of the town. After independence, a new bridge about 1.5 miles downstream from the site of old bridge was constructed and agglomeration of Administrative Offices brought radical change in the overall development of the town. The rapid urban growth of the town can be attributed mainly to its locational advantage, in the centre of the valley, rich and fertile soil, abundance of water, potential of rich variety of fish due to the proximity of Wular lake and forest resources. It act as a collection and distribution centre and hub of many economic and administrative activities of its hinterland region.

Geography

Sopore is located at . It has an average elevation of 1556 metres (5105 feet). Sopore occupies almost central position in the valley of Kashmir surrounded by Picturesque Lolab valley and Bandipora town in the East-north; on the west by Tehsil Baramulla and on the South by Karewas of tangmarg Tehsil. [282420]

Demographics

 India census, Sopore had a population of 73,246 (2001 census) and area of 61 km² making it the fifth largest town after Srinagar, Anantnag, Jammu and Baramulla . Males constitute 53% of the population and females 47%. Sopore has an average literacy rate of 55%, lower than the national average of 59.5%: Male literacy is 63%, and female literacy is 46%. In Sopore, 12% of the population is under 6 years of age.


Most of the population of old Sopore resides on the banks of Jhelum Riverwhichmarker passes through the township. Main areas in old Sopore include: Khushal-mutto, Muslim Peer, Kralteng, BabaYusuf, Sofi-hammam, Khankah, HathiShah, Arampora, Jamia qadeem, Peer mohala and Batpora. These localities are marked by homes with old style of architecture. New Sopore consists mainly civil lines areas like New Colony, Badambagh, Noorbagh and Ashpeer sahib. Sopore has quite a population inhabiting several satellite areas like Modeltown and Jalalabad. New areas like Naseembagh,krankshivan colony, New light colony,Ummerabad have come up in the town suburbs, making it more contiguous.

Sopore is surrounded by many tiny but beautiful villages. These hamlets consist one block that is collectively called Zaingair. Important villages of Zainagair Include: Warapora, Dangerpora, Adipora, Harrdushiva, Watlab, Botingoo,Duroo, Mundji,Takya Khan Mohd, Bomai, Seelo, Nathipora, Tujar, Wadoora, Zaloora,Saidpora,Darapora, Goripora and Sagipora.

Sopore has been a major trading centre for years. Iqbal market is the main market of the township. In chotta bazaar, one can shop for spices, wholesale products and fish. Sopore's fish is much sought after and relished in the whole of north Kashmir. The old town is also famous for its bakeries, which have withstood the onslaught of modern day pastery corners and continue to have long queues in the mornings.

About 8 miles from Sopore is the famed Wularmarker Lake. It is one of the largest fresh water lake's in Asia and home to some rare water birds. The lake, along with the extensive marshes surrounding it, is an important natural habitat for wildlife. The width and length of the lake is 7 km. From Watlab to Sonawari, it is also an important habitat for fish, accounting for 60 per cent of the total fish production within the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The lake is a source of livelihood for a large human population living along its fringes. The catchment area of the lake supports magnificent coniferous forests, alpine pastures and orchards, adding to the natural beauty and biodiversity of the wetland area. Many villages get their livings from the wular lake, Certain villages from Sopore tehsil residing near banks of wular lake like Hathlangoo, Watlab, Zirmanz, Warapora (Pethbugh), Get most of the livilihood from this lake. Fishes, Firewood and leaves from trees are common items got from this lake and vicinity by these people.

The people of Sopore have been historically anti-establishment but very sporty. Football is a favourite sport. Old people can be seen cheering along with children and young people in the evening football ties, usually played in the degree college grounds, Khushal Stadium, MET ground , Noorgah etc area.

Religious practices

Sopore is dotted by many places of religious significance. The more important ones include: Khan-kah Shah-i-Hamdan and Jama Masjid. Besides there are numerous little shrines (locally called 'Astans') spread all over the place. Frequented by people from many areas, some of these spiritual places include: Baba Shukur Din Watlab Sopore, Shiekh Hamza Makhdoomi Tujar, Syed Fatullah Haqani Bomai, Saed shahib Darapora Zainagir, Daid Mouj Mundji, Arza sahib takya khan zainagair ,Hathi-Shah Sahib, Rahim-Sahib Armpora, Hab Shahib Hathlangoo, Shah-Dargah Sahib, Syed Jamal-Din Sahib, Khuj Sahib-Shiva to name a few.

Old Hindu shrines include Rishi peer Mandir (Batpora) and Shiv Mandir. Besides these shrines a lot of people in Sopore venerate the local Peer's (holy men) and the township has been home to quite a few. The more famous ones are: Ahad Sahib , Lassa Sahib Arm, Ama Sahib Guknu, Aziz Sahib Vandhome.

Apart from the seemingly distinct sufi religious streak, Sopore has also been a centre of radical Islamic political formations, notably, the Jamaat-Islami, J and K. The firebrand Islamist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, currently Chairman of one faction of the separatist Hurriat conference, belongs to a village called Dooru near Sopore.

Sopore Massacre

In Jammu and Kashmir, on January 6, 1993, Kashmiris witnessed bloodbath and arson by Indian Border Security Force (BSF) personnel in the apple town of Sopore.

At least 60 people fell to the bullets of troopers, hundreds of shops and houses were gutted down and property worth crores of rupees lost when the troopers went on a killing spree in vengeance after one of their colleague had been injured in a firing incident. Though 16 years have passed since the incident, the residents of the town still shiver remembering the fateful chilly morning of January 6, when markets of Sopore were razed to the ground within two hours.

This is one of the few massacres that have been mentioned in TIME Magazine. The news report appeared on Jan 18, 1993 in TIME Magazine under the headline, Blood tide rising: Indian forces carry out one of the worst massacres in Kashmir’s history. The magazine described the massacre as: “Perhaps there is a special corner in hell reserved for troopers who fire their weapons indiscriminately into a crowd of unarmed civilians in the Kashmiri town of Sopore.”

In the reconstructed Main Chowk market of Sopore Town it is hard to find the traces of the carnage the troopers carried out on January 6, 1993, killing more than 55 persons, most of them roasted alive in shops, buses, and houses. The troopers set about 100 houses and 300 shops on fire after dousing them with gunpowder, the local residents recall. For three days people rummaged the debris for bodies.

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