“It was doomsday”: 31 years on, justice eludes Handwara massacre victims

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Srinagar: The onset of year 1990 in Kashmir began with massacres. On 21st January in that year, Gaw Kadal massacre was perpetrated by CRPF in which at least 52 civilians were killed in indiscriminate firing. This sparked protests across Kashmir.

Four days after Gaw Kadal massacre, another massacre took place in Handwara district of Kupwara. People from Ramhal, Vilgam, Rajwar, Kandi, Nagarwari, Qaziabad, Qalamabad, Kulangam and adjoining areas started gathering in Handwara Chowk, showing their protest against the newly appointed governor, Jagmohan.  

Witnesses of the day and locals said that around 11 am, a large procession from Ramhal reached the spot via Magam route.

They say that a Tata- 407 vehicle of BSF from Waripora Handwara, (No. HVN-7717) appeared near police station Handwara and tried to make its way through the procession.

According to eyewitnesses protestors didn’t allow it to pass which infuriated the BSF personnel who opened indiscriminate fire on the protestors.

A survivor, who was part of the procession, narrates, “People were protesting peacefully when troopers opened fire at them. Suddenly people hit by bullets were falling in front of me. Some of them died on the spot. I could see the bodies of Muhammad Shafi War of Divaspora, Shafi Khan of Sodal, Nazir Ahmad Dar of Braripora, Shiefud-din Khan of Wullarhama, Ghulam Muhammad Sheikh of Wajhama, Ghulam Muhammad Beigh of Wudpora, Ali Mohammad Itto of Chogal, Ghulam Muhammad War and Muhammad Amin Masala both residents of Kulangam receiving bullets and dying in front of me. Many others were critically injured.”

“It was all doomsday; bullets were being showered like rain onto the protesters. The incident still sends shivers down the spine of the people.”

Recalling the incident another survivor said, “Within minutes bodies were piling on streets and blood was scattered everywhere. I miraculously escaped in the indiscriminate firing; BSF men didn’t allow us initially to move the injured to the hospital.”

Human rights activists say at least 34 people lost their lives and 175 others suffered grievous injuries. However, the official data put the number of the dead on the lower side.

According to news agency Kashmir dot Com an FIR NO- 10/1990 stands registered at Police Station Handwara under sections 307, 151, 53, 427, 336, 449, 448, 436, 435–A.

“Till this date the government has no answer to our queries as to what led to this massacre. Killed persons were not militants but civilians who were protesting peacefully,” International Forum for Justice and Human Rights (IFJHRJK) Muhammad Ahsan Untoo, who has been pursuing the case before the State Human Rights Commission, told KDC.

“Handwara witnessed one of the worst massacres in the history of Kashmir, Handwara massacre remains a blot on the face of democracy, I demand a transparent and fresh probe into the incident by the sitting High Court Judge,” he said.

He said that since the SHRC has disposed off the case citing lack of cooperation by the officials of the district and the non-identification of the BSF men involved in the act. (KDC)

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