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Gawkadal Massacre: 32-yrs gone by, but painful day still haunts Kashmir
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Gawkadal Massacre: 32-yrs gone by, but painful day still haunts Kashmir

Witnesses recount Jan 21, 1990 horror, call it a dark day in Kashmir history

Post by on Saturday, January 22, 2022

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Srinagar, Jan 21: As many as 32-years have gone by, but Ali Mohammad Dar, a 70-year-old man, still clearly remembers the details of January 21, 1990, Gawkadal massacre when paramilitary troops of CRPF opened indiscriminate fire on peaceful protestors and killed more than 50 people and injuring hundreds of others.
Recollecting the details leading to the incident, the elderly person says that during the intervening night of January 20 and 21, the CRPF troops conducted house searches in Chotta Bazaar in Kanikadal.
“I had no information about the fateful incident. I left my home at 5: 30 a.m. to sell newspapers in the market and reached Habakadal, where protestors were raising pro-Islamic slogans,” he said.
Dar said he came to know that forces had found nothing and neither was any weapon seized. 
“After the operation was over, the news about alleged molestation of women spread like wildfire in Srinagar city and people started marching towards the site,” he said.
“People used loudspeakers to inform others about the incident and a large number of people came out to protest against molestation. When I saw the situation was worsening, I tried to walk towards Kaka road, but security forces didn’t allow me,” he said.
The Gawkadal episode happened two days after the Government of India had appointed Jagmohan as the Governor for a second time to control mass protests by Kashmiris.
Dar recalls that it was the holy month of Ramdhan and people were fasting.
“I remember when people started marching towards Ganpatyar, we heard three gun fires and after that it did not stop till the street turned red,” he said.
“The protestors were peacefully demanding action against the accused CRPF men. It was a total peaceful protest,” he said.
“I still remember Farooq Ahmad, kept the barrel on his chest after sensing that forces will fire on women protestors. He kept a gun on his chest and received around 70-80 bullets and died. When we saw his dead body, his chest had a deep and wide hole of bullets. Otherwise, there could have been more casualties in the incident,” he said.
Dar remembers that when protesters were getting gunned down it was like trees were cut down by the axe and it was the dark day in Kashmir history.
Following the massacre the remembrance of the incident of January 21, 1990 is now an annual affair and is usually marked by a shutdown.
Ghulam Nabi Darzi, another survivor and witness, said forces fired indiscriminately on peaceful protestors in which 50 persons were killed on the spot and over 200 got injured.
“The dead bodies were bundled together at the Power Station, Basant Bagh. Later civilians were asked to announce that if anyone was injured to take them to a nearby hospital. Some came out and while others remained inside their houses,” he said.
Darzi, a resident of Downtown, said there was a hospital where a doctor had provided first aid to hundreds. 
“People from Mehjoor Nagar, Jawahar Nagar, Raj Bagh and other areas who had come to join protests were trapped inside Downtown. Then later in the evening and after the intervention of local religious leaders, people were set free,” he said.
“Blood was everywhere and people fled from their houses for days together. There was terror everywhere. The episode is a blot on the history of Kashmir,” he said.
The public anger after the massacre had forced the government to clamp curfew for 21 days. Even after three decades, the memories of horror continue and many questions remain unanswered.
Following the fateful incident, police had registered a FIR no 3/90 at Kralkhud Police Station under RPC 307, 148, 149, 188 and 153.
As per FIR, the CRPF troopers had opened fire to stop "unruly mob raising anti-India and anti-forces slogans" heading towards Lal Chowk at Gaw Kadal.
After 13 years, the case was closed and those accused were declared untraceable. No challan has been produced against any person in any court.
CRPF spokesman, Abhiram Pankaj said that he has no information about the case. “I will get back to you once, I get details about the incident,” he said.
A senior police officer said that the case has been closed as the accused were not identified. Asking about any possibility of reopening the case, he said “now the situation has improved and there is no need to reopen this case.”

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