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Kashmir’s first blood

JANUARY 21, 1990, was when Kashmir witnessed its first massacre, one that gave birth to generation of angry young men, a violent uprising a...

Written by Mir Ehsan | Srinagar |
May 1, 2005

JANUARY 21, 1990, was when Kashmir witnessed its first massacre, one that gave birth to generation of angry young men, a violent uprising and a militant separatist sentiment never seen before in the Valley.

People in the Valley allege that jawans of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) opened indiscrimnate fire on thousands of peaceful demonstrators near Gaw Kadal in downtown Srinagar. The official figure for fatal casaulities was 21. But when the bodies were counted in the Police Control Room, it climbed to 50.

THE massacre happened just a day after the Centre appointed Jagmohan as J-K Governor ina bid to control the mass protests by Kashmiris. In the early 1990s, massive protests were a routine affair.

The day of the massacre at Gaw Kadal—a commercial hub at old town Srinagar, the J-K Police registered an FIR at police station Kralkhud and started investigating the case. The memory of this massacre is gradually fading out of Kashmir’s consciousness. But those who witnessed the massacre find it hard to forget.

An eyewitness remembers: ‘‘On seeing a big demonstration approaching towards the wooden bridge near Gaw Kadal, the security forces panicked. And they fired indiscrimnately on the peaceful protestors. The firing left dozens of civilians dead,’’ he says.

The public anger after the massacre had forced the government to clamp curfew for 21 days.

CASE FILE

Massacre in the mountains
On January 21, 1990, CRPF jawans are alleged to have opened indiscrimnate fire on demonstrators near Gaw Kadal in downtown Srinagar
Official fatal casaulities figure was 21 but the actual body count was 50
Police records say the ‘‘unruly’ mob was pelting stones at the security forces. But it makes no mention of the police action
Fifteen years later, the case has been closed

FIFTEEN years later, the case has been closed and those involved in the Kashmir’s first massacre have been declared untracable. No challan has been produced against any person in court.

At police station Maisuma, officials are unable to trace the details relating to the massacre. ‘‘I know about this case. But latest details can be possesed from Kralkhud police station,’’ said duty officer, Maisuma Police station.

At the Kralkhud police station, the picture clears up slightly. An FIR 3/90 was registered against a riotous mob. The cases were registered under RPC 307, 148, 149 and 153. When scanned, the police roznamcha (daybook) reads, ‘‘all those involved in the case are still untraceable’’.

And based on this report, the police says the accused haven’t been identified. ‘‘This is an old case and has been closed,’’ said a police official at Kralkhud Police station.

The police record, however, mentions that on January 21, a big crowd raising anti-India slogans was heading towards Lal Chowk and the security forces tried to stop the crowd near Gaw Kadal.

Instead of dispersing, the unruly crowd started pelting stones at government buildings and security force personnel. The report ends here without mentioning anything about the massacre that became the turning point of militancy in Kashmir.

The case may be closed but the people of the Valley are demanding it be re-opened. ‘‘If the Kanishka case or the Uphaar case can be re-opened, why not this,’’ asks a downtown resident, who was part of the 1990 demonstration. Human Rights activist and chairman of the Coalition of Civil Society (CCS) Advocate Pervez Imroz says this is not the solitary case, where the accused have been declared untraceable. ‘‘There are many cases, which have have met the same fate,’’ said Imroz. ‘‘The justice to the victims can be ensured if the cases are re-opened and fairly investigated.’’

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