Srinagar, Jan 21 : 23 years have passed since Neelam lost her father in a carnage carried out by the Indian Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Srinagar. She continues to pen down new poems every year to remember her martyred father.
On the intervening night of January 20 and 21, 1990, the paramilitary troopers during house-to-house searches in Chota Bazar area of Srinagar dragged out people from their homes, arrested hundreds and molested several women. The incident took place immediately after Jagmohan Malhotra took over as governor of the occupied territory on January 19, 1990, and announced to deal sternly with those who would demand freedom from India.
As the word about the molestation of the women spread in the morning, thousands of people took to the streets in the city to protest against the brutal action of the troops. The occupation forces resorted to indiscriminate firing on the protesters in Gawkadal area of the city, killing over 50 people and injuring hundreds of others.
Neelam was only three-year-old when her father, Farooq Ahmad Sheikh, was killed while saving people during the indiscriminate firing on protesters by the CRPF at Gawkadal. “I have been feeling a strange pain inside me every time, though I don’t know much about you. They say you have gone to a special place and they console me not to cry. But I don’t care what they say, Papa it is between you and me!” Neelam, who has now completed her graduation, writes in one of her poems.
Farooq, then 28-year-old, was a driver in the Cable Car Corporation (CCC). “He (Farooq) ran towards a CRPF man who was spraying bullets on the protesters with the intention to stop him from firing. But he in turn received bullets in his chest,” said Farooq’s wife, Dilshada, in an interview.
A liberation leader, Javed Ahmad Mir, said that the procession was completely peaceful when the troops opened fire. “I saw people around me falling down on the ground as the troops fired a volley of bullets,” he added.
According to political analysts, the Gawkadal massacre is one of the worst massacres in the history of Kashmir.
Pertinently, the Human Rights Commission of the territory has recently ordered fresh inquiry by its investigation wing into the Gawkadal massacre.