Jan 21, 1990: When Saltanat lost her brave father
51 CIVILIANS FELL TO CRPF BULLETS
Srinagar, Jan 20: In a usually busy Gawkadal locality here, there are no apparent signs of a carnage that the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force men allegedly carried out two decades back. Yet the memories of the gruesome incident, in which 51 civilians lost their lives to bullets, are fresh in the hearts and minds of its witnesses and survivors.
Barely a kilometer away from Gawkadal, Saltanat Farooq, who is pursuing her career in computers, stares at the photograph of her father, Farooq Ahmad.
“This is my brave dad,” she says, handing over the copy to this reporter. “He was a real hero who sacrificed his life for the sake of humanity by saving the life of many others in 1990.”
Ahmad is a victim of the massacre, which took place on January 21, 1990, and later came to be known as the Gawkadal Massacre.
The 28-year-old Farooq Ahmad was a driver in the Cable Car Corporation (CCC). “January 21 is an important day in the history of Kashmir,” writes Saltanat on a note that she has prepared on her father’s death anniversary. “It was on this day that the armed struggle became a mass movement.”
Farooq died along with 51 others on the day when CRPF personnel allegedly opened fire on a peaceful procession at Gawkadal here. The processionists were marching towards Chotta Bazaar area where the forces had committed atrocities and allegedly molested many women during a search operation.
“Farooq ran towards a CRPF man who was spraying bullets on the protesters to stop him from doing so. But the personnel pumped bullets into his chest,” says his wife, Dilshada, looking at her three daughters, who are all pursuing education this time.
Farooq left behind the three daughter aged between three to five years then. “Today they are Mashallah grown up and are pursuing their education well,” says Dilshada, who worked in the CCC after her husband’s death.
The three daughters, Uzma, Neelam and Saltanat call their mother a heroine. “Had she succumbed to the socio-economic pressures, our father’s dream of making us educated would have been incomplete,” says Saltanat, who is doing B-Level Masters in Computer Applications, while Uzma is doing internship in Nursing and Neelam is in her final year of graduation.
“We have no words to thank our mother. She is an angel. We thank her for all she has done for us. She is a great mother,” they say, recalling how she sacrificed her joys to make her children study. “It is only because of her that we have been able to pursue our studies and are living with dignity and honour.”
The children, too soft-spoken, believe that the vacuum created by their father in Dilshada’s life cannot be filled. But, they say, she always believes that her husband is around. “My belief is that my husband is always around and this makes me feel strong and secured,” says Dilshada.
Before this reporter quit the house, Saltanat says: “Others must understand that nothing is impossible in life. We are proud to be the daughters of a brave father and a courageous mother.”
According to political analysts, the Gawkadal massacre was one of the worst massacres in Kashmir history.
“After rigging of 1987 elections, there was a disillusion among masses but it was reflected only through the insurgency that was brewing up in 1989 and 1990. The Gawkadal Massacre and similar events that took place around this massacre mobilized Kashmir society in a big way and manifested itself in large-scale involvement of masses,” says Dr Sheikh Showkat Hussain, who teaches Law at the University of Kashmir.
THEN AND NOW
According to political analysts, it is important to understand the context of Gawkadal Massacre and other massacres and the lessons therein. “The first thing to be noted is the importance of memories and forgetfulness in conflict resolution. The question involved is: can you de-historicize man? Memories shape history and memories of the type that Gawkadal represents make wounded history and it creates a psychology of us and them,” said Prof Gul Muhammad Wani, who teaches Political Science at the University of Kashmir.
Referring to the relevance of Gawkadal Massacre in the present times, Wani said: “Another point is how Gawkadal is relevant in the present times when we refer to establishment of Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Kashmir. One of the suggestions that interlocutors have given to the Government of India is to have a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. What is the potential of this commission as far as Kashmir is concerned. Do you think we have reached to a point where the situation is conducive for knowing truth and going for reconciliation? In South Africa, it was post-conflict resolution development. In Kashmir it is being suggested at a time when the killings have not stopped. Care is to be taken that it should not be officially-driven truth, which becomes suspect in the public minds.”
Elaborating, he said, another point is how issues of justice and dignity are crucial to sustainable peace and conflict resolution. “Much of violence in the world, whether at regional or international level, is rooted in the sense of humiliation. The question is do we have to learn anything from the Gawkadal Massacre. Yes it is that how disproportionate presence of forces and disproportionate use of force can complicate a problem. Gawkadal has many lessons to offer but the question is that if there are takers for that,” Wani said.
Lastupdate on : Thu, 20 Jan 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 20 Jan 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 21 Jan 2011 00:00:00 IST
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