‘Justice continues to elude families of victims’
SRINAGAR: Despite passing of 28 years, justice continues to elude families of victims of Gaw Kadal massacre. On 21 January, 1990 troopers of paramilitary CRPF opened fire upon on protestors at Gaw Kadal killing around 50 people and injuring hundreds of others. People were protesting against the harassment of people including women on the night of 20 January 1990 by the government forces during house-to-house searches at Chota Bazar in Downtown.
“For the past 28 years, I have been waiting for punishment to the accused troopers,” said Farooq Ahmad Wani, the lone survivor of the Gaw Kadal massacre.
“Probe into the matter should be carried out. Otherwise, it would be the biggest ever injustice to those killed and those who survived,” said Farooq at a protest organized by a human right activist Ahsan Untoo and a civil society group.
Recalling the incident, Farooq who retired as chief engineer with Public works department (PWD) said, “Whenever I pass by Gaw Kadal Bridge, I become nostalgic and at the same time thank God for such miraculous escape.”
On the fateful day, people from various areas in thousands came out on roads and began to march towards the Downtown Srinagar via Gaw Kadal.
As people reached on the Gaw Kadal Bridge, the CRPF personnel deployed there opened indiscriminate fire killing more than 50 people. Farooq Ahmad, who had left home at Rajbagh to get his curfew pass from deputy commissioner’s office, was stopped by police.
“I decided to go to Mandir Bagh at my uncle’s place, but was not allowed and inadvertently became a part of the procession. When I saw injured people being fired upon on heads, I thought of jumping into the river, but somebody pushed me and I lied down and pretended to be dead,” he said.
“My head was touching hot ashes from a Kangri. I could bear it only for a few minutes and moved my head, and the policemen saw me and fired upon me. Then another uniformed men came and saw me alive…he tried to shoot me, but the officer told him ‘don’t waste the bullet on him, he is going to die anyway.”
Despite passing of 28 years, no challan was filed against the accused troopers. On Ist April 2012, Ahsan Untoo, chairperson International Forum for Justice and Forum filed a petition before State Human Rights Commission.
in 2017, the investigation wing of SHRC produced a report before the commission stating, “It is grotesquely inappropriate that in a matter where allegations of serious human rights violations are made out against the security personnel, after lapse of more than 26 years, investigating agencies have failed to establish individual/joint responsibility of security forces involved in the Gaw Kadal firing of 21st January, 1990.”
Prof Hamida Nayeem, a member of civil society, said, “memorials should come up at sites where the massacres have happened so that our next generation would know and remember the sacrifices of the people.”
Others who attended the event were Zareef Ahmad Zareef, Shabir Ahmad Dar, Muhammad Iqbal Mir, Abdul Majeed Zargar and Farooq Ahmad Wani.