‘Gaw Kadal Massacre’
SRINAGAR, (Riyaz Bhat):Twenty eight years after 51 civilians lost their lives in Gaw Kadal, survivors recalled the grim tales of government forces turning to targeted killing.
Eyewitnesses recounted that forces indiscriminately opened fire on a protest march and are haunted by bitter memories. On January 21, 1990, people were protesting against the mass arrest of civilians and molestation of a woman carried out by forces who were trying to trace the militants in the area, when they were fired upon.
When Mohammad Rafiq witnessed the “cold-blooded murder” of two civilians, who were the part of the protests, and managed to flee from the protest march he took shelter in the lawn of his house. Rafiq, 70, said that he was not able to sleep “comfortably as the nightmares of the horrifying slaughter of civilians did not let him relax despite the hard struggle to forget those horrible memories.”
Rafiq, while narrating the incident, said, “I was on the Gaw Kadal bridge and I vividly remember that forces were beating the civilians and after the news of molestation of a woman by forces and mass arrests of the locals the paramilitary forces started showering bullets indiscriminately.”
“ The forces pumped bullets at two unarmed protesters who entered into the lawn of my house to evade killing. To save my life I ran towards my home followed by two other civilians of Kokerbazar area who were the part of protest. The forces barged into the lawn and fired killing two civilians.”
Recalling the fateful day, Rafiq added, “To evade killings many people during the protest jumped into water from the bridge, when they were chased by the forces, but were gunned down.”
He said Jagmohan was appointed as the Governor of Jammu Kashmir on January 19, 1990, by New Delhi, to put curbs on pro-freedom protests to bring normalcy in the Valley and two days later people protested the mass arrest of civilians and molestation of a woman carried out by forces.
Another eye-witness, Farooq Ahmad Wani, said, “Every time I walk over Gaw Kadal bridge horror haunts me.” Wani added, “I can hardly forget the terrific scenes when paramilitary forces were targeting the civilians to kill them even they did not spare any injured person and fired at them as well.” He said it was “my good luck to survive.”
Another local resident, Halima Bano, who lost her husband in the massacre said, “My husband was going to a workshop at Polo View area of Lal Chowk and on the way to home he was shot dead by the forces at Gaw Kadal even as he was not part of any of the protests.”