By Mushtaq Ahmed, SRINAGAR: Handwara to observe shutdown today in memory of 17 people massacred by BSF
Handwara: Traders in Handwara have announced that all business establishments will remain closed in the area on Wednesday in memory of the 17 people who were martyred by Border Security Force, a paramilitary force responsible for many massacres in the Valley, on this day in 1990.
President Handwara Traders Federation Ajaz Ahmad said the townspeople will assemble at Eidgah in the town and offer prayers to the martyrs.
“It is one of the biggest massacres in Kashmir history and the kin of the victims are still awaiting justice. Our wounds are alive. Only eight months after this massacre, BSF and army slaughtered 26 people and burnt the town and destroyed property worth crores,” Ajaz said.
On January 25, 1990, a sunny Monday, it was the fourth day of shutdown in Handwara town. The people had been observing strike for four days in protest against the slaughter of 50 unarmed protesters on Gaw Kadal bridge in Srinagar by CRPF troopers on January 21, 1990.
“The people were still angry over the carnage in Srinagar. A large number of people came onto streets once again and protested against Jagmohan, then governor, and the bloodbath that was happening under his rule.
“About 10am, as the demonstration was on, a vehicle (HVN-7717) carrying BSF troopers stopped in the town and the troopers started firing on the protesters. While 14 people were martyred on the spot, three more died in hospitals,” Ajaz said.
Some protesters had tried to take shelter in the residence of former National Conference minister and MP Sharif-ud-din Shariq, but his security personnel fired at them, injuring many.
“Every year we have been observing a strike but justice has not been delivered,” he added.
Zahoor Ahmad, a trader and survivor, said, “The town remained closed for 20 days after the massacre. Police had then assured the people that a ‘strong case’ will be registered against the BSF but 26 years later we have no idea whether an FIR was filed at all or whether there was an inquiry into the carnage.”