January 21, 1990: When Indian troopers put 52 Kashmiri civilians to death

– ‘Case stands closed and culprits untraceable’

Srinagar:  It was this day (January 21, 1990), twenty-seven years ago, when at least 52 Kashmiri innocent civilians were butchered by India’s Central Reserve Police Force in the heart of the Srinagar city when thousands of people took out a massive anti-India procession.

Eyewitness accounts reveal that anti-India sentiments were running deep and the city was reverberating with pro-freedom slogans. “On January 21, 1990, the whole city was under siege, massive search and crackdown operations were carried out to trace down the militants. The news of women being molested and hundreds of people being arrested by the Indian forces on the directions of the then Governor Jagmohan sent shockwaves throughout Srinagar city,” said a local from Kokarbazar to CNS.

Some of the witnesses said that a procession actually started from Ikhrajpora that swelled up as it passed through lanes and bye lanes of the civil lines areas. Young and old, filled with anger came on the streets. Bubbling with the sentiment of freedom, the slogans sent sound waves which broke the cold air. As the procession reached Maisuma, the Indian Troops were assembled at the Gowkadal Bridge, to thwart the protests. The resonance of the slogans kept the procession going; they were unaware of what was going to happen. As soon as they stepped on the bridge, the sounds of Light Machine Gun (LMG) and AK 47 surrounded them. Bullets were fired. People were falling like the pack of cards. Some people jumped over the bridge to save their lives.

Twently-four years old youth Abdul Rouf according to eyewitnesses saved scores of people. He confronted a CRPF trooper who emptied the whole magazine (32 bullets) into his chest. According to eyewitnesses 18 bullets were shot in the stomach of a budding youth Irfan Ahmed after marauds troopers found him breathing among the dead. Entire carbine was emptied in the chest of the neighbor of this youth who was later identified as Farooq Ahmed. They kept shooting, until everyone at the bridge was dead. “Some pretended to be dead and thus survived.”

As the sounds of bullets got down, the bridge and the road was full of bodies. It was a scene from a war. The blood was rushing down the road into the river below making the water red.

Fifty two people died and 250 sustained bullet injuries. However the official death toll was put to 21. Police registered the FIR vide number 3/1990 under section 148, 149, 307, 188 RPC at Kralkhud Police Station but it was registered against the ‘atrocious mob’. Nothing was written against the CRPF and Police action. The case stands closed and the culprits untraceable.

Gawkadal Massacre Anniversary:

Only peaceful protests can attract global attention: Kashmir Lawyers Club

Pitching for holding peaceful protests to attract the attention of the world community, Kashmir Lawyers Club has said that it will pay floral tributes to the martyrs of ‘Gawkadal massacre’ on Saturday- January 21.

“Stone-pleting and strikes have only brought a bad name to this ongoing Kashmir Freedom Struggle. Our Movement must be peaceful. The Lawyers community will visit the spot of incidence and besides paying floral tributes to the martyrs, we will also observe two minutes silence in the memory of those innocent people who were butchered by Indian armed forces,” chairman Kashmir Lawyers Club Advocate Babar Qadri told news agency CNS.

He said that protest will be totally peaceful. “There will be no sloganeering and no stone-pelting. We ought to change our strategy if we want to attract the attention of international community. Our peaceful protests can pay us dividends but a single stone-pelting incident pushes us to wall,” Qadri said and said that strike is not a tool to remember these martyrs.

Pertinently, more than 52 Kashmiri innocent civilians were butchered by India’s Central Reserve Police Force in the heart of the Srinagar city when thousands of people took out a massive anti-India procession on 21 January 1990.

HR activist protests against ‘multiple massacres’

‘Book guilty and deliver justice to victim’s families’

International Forum for Justice Chairman Muhammad Ahsan Untoo staged a protest against ‘multiple massacres’ allegedly committed by Government Forces particularly BSF in Kashmir Valley.

Untoo wrapped a long and wide banner around his body that depicted the dates of Gawkadal, Handwara, Kupwara and Sopore massacres. The multicolour banner draped by Untoo attracted the attention of scores of people including mediamen.

Talking to CNS, Untoo said that Government Forces involved in so many massacres are roaming free and no accused has been brought to book so far.

“I had lodged a complaint against CRPF personnel involved in 1990 Gawkadal massacre in State Human Rights Commission in 2012 and till date nothing positive have come out despite the fact that inquiry was conducted by IGP State Human Rights Commission,” Untoo said. “ I have filed all but 153 petitions against BSF and other security agencies involved in different massacres and killing incidents. The Security Agencies approached High Court and barred SHRC to conduct fair and impartial probe into these massacres,” Untoo said.

He said there are so many administrative officials who are still alive and it is the right and duty of the State to question them about the Gowkadal massacre.

“Then Governor Jagmohan does not occupy any post now and same is the case with other witnesses who occupied important posts in Kashmir at the time of massacres. They must be questioned and their statements should be recorded so that justice could be delivered without any delay now,” he said.

Mirwaiz Qazi Yasir pays tributes to Gawkadal massacre victims 
 
Condemns Sarjan Barkati’s continuous arrest, demands release of prisoners
 

 The Chairman of Ummat e Islami Jammu Kashmir and Mirwaiz of South Kashmir, Qazi Ahmed Yasir, on Friday paid rich tributes to the victims on the 27th anniversary of Gawkadal Massacre and demanded that the government should release all the prisoners arrested during the summer uprising. 

 
On 20 January 1990, more than 50 people were brutally killed by the occupational forces and since then Kashmiris have been suffering. Mirwaiz Qazi Yasir said that people who laid down their life on Gawkadal or since then in whole Kashmir, like this summer, must not be forgotten. “It is their sacrifices that Kashmir issue if alive and we are taking ahead their mission. A freedom movement is not a few weeks or months matter, countries that have been free have even fought for centuries also but that doesn’t mean we should run campaigns that only exhaust people and die down without any resolution,” he said.
 
He also added that the state government has put hundreds of people behind bars in the aftermath of 2016 uprising. “Sarjan Barkati, Bhat Raouf and dozens of people continue to be incarcerated illegally despite getting the release orders from the High court. Barkati has now been transferred to Central Jail and it is highly condemnable that he has not been released yet,” he said.
 
“The freedom movement continues and the sentiment among people will not die, but India and Pakistan must look at the changing geo-politics and aim to resolve this issue. There will be no peace in South Asia without solving Kashmir,” he added. (Agencies)

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