As bullets were raining, people didn’t allow Mirwaiz’s coffin to touch ground: Survivors
Srinagar: The news of Mirwaiz Muhammad Farooq’s killing had already spread like a bush fire across Kashmir and the authorities had announced curfew in entire Srinagar on this day in 1990. The body of Mirwaiz was being taken from SKIMS, Soura to Mirwaiz Manzil, Rajouri Kadal in the form of a huge procession.
“Thousands of people had assembled at SKIMS Soura, to have last glimpse of Mirwaiz,” recalls Nazir Ahmed, one of the survivors of Hawal massacre of May 21, 1990.
“When the procession reached Hawal area of old Srinagar along with the body of Mirwaiz , the paramilitary personnel stationed in a camp at Islamia College trained their machine guns at the peaceful procession. And then it was havoc.”
Ahmed says he could see multiple bullets hitting people in their head, stomach, arms and they were falling flat on the ground. “Even those shouldering the coffin of Mirwaiz also sustained bullet injuries. As one was hit by bullets another shouldered the coffin,” he recollects.
“Despite thousands of bullets fired by the paramilitary forces, Mirwaiz’s coffin wasn’t allowed to touch the ground. I remember, people hit by multiple bullets in their body didn’t leave the coffin,” he says adding that Mirwaiz’s body also received several bullets.
The gory memories of May 21, 1990, continue to haunt this old city resident, even after passing of 27 years. “I remember the massacre as if it happened yesterday,” he says.
Over 60 civilians were killed and more than 200 injured at Hawal on that day.
J&K was under unpopular rule and Governor Jagmohan was heading the State. Ahmed says he rushed to his home and took out his vehicle and started ferrying injured to SKIMS, Soura. “I took one of the injured, who was hit by a bullet, but he succumbed. I continued shifting injured to the hospital,” he says.
Farooq Ahmed, another survivor of the Hawal massacre vouches that there was no provocation from the procession carrying Mirwaiz’s body.
“For a moment, I thought I am dead as a bullet had hit me in my right hand and one of my fingers was hanging by just a vein. I fell down and when I opened my eyes, I found people in a pool of blood on my both sides,” Farooq says as tears well-up from his eyes. He says hundreds were injured including children, women and elderly.
An elderly man from Hawal, wishing not to be named as he feared reprisal from the forces, says memories of Hawal massacre are as fresh as if the incident has happened yesterday. “Forces didn’t even spare the dead and trampled over them,” he says amid sobs. He rues even after 27 years, there is no headway in the probe into the incident.
Witnesses assert that later the body of Mirwaiz was taken through lanes and by lanes to Mirwaiz Manzil Rajouri Kadal.
A memorial has also been established at Hawal in old Srinagar outside Islamia College, in memory of martyrs of Hawal with the names of victims carved on it.
The then Governor had announced a ‘time-bound’ inquiry into the massacre within a period of two months. However, in reply to an RTI application in 2013, the then Divisional Commissioner Kashmir stated that a criminal case vide FIR no. 35/1990 was registered into the incident at Nowhatta police station. “However, there is no information with the department as to whether there was any inquiry either judicial or magisterial, ordered by the government,” he had stated.
On a petition by a human rights activist, the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) in 2014 had ordered time bound inquiry into the massacre and sought a report from the government within two months.
“Despite various communications addressed to the DGP, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir and also from Secretary of the Commission, authorities are unmoved. In view of the insensitive approach adopted by the authorities, the Commission is left with no option but to entrust the inquiry to the investigative wing of this Commission,” the SHRC had stated.
The identification of the forces, who resorted to intense firing on a peaceful procession, remains a distant dream.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, Chairman Hurriyat Conference (M) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said that even after 27 years, scars left by the Hawal massacre are still afresh in the minds of survivors, families of victims and the people of Kashmir.
“I was pained to see that none of the victims’ families was allowed to go to the grave of their loved ones killed in Hawal massacre due to the curfew imposed by the authorities today. This is shame on part of the authorities,” Mirwaiz says.