Handwara massacre survivors want a memorial for the victims

On 25 January 1990, Border Security Force personnel fired into a demonstration in Handwara that was protesting against the massacre of 52 people at Gaw Kadal, Srinagar, four days earlier.
Handwara massacre survivors want a memorial for the victims
File Photo

On 25 January 1990, Border Security Force personnel fired into a demonstration in Handwara that was protesting against the massacre of 52 people at Gaw Kadal, Srinagar, four days earlier. Twenty-two people were massacred.

But 28 years down the line, like the perpetrators of Gaw Kadal massacre, the accused in Handwara massacre were never brought to the book.

Ajaz Ahmad Sofi, an eyewitness to Handwara massacre, said: "Handwara was on boil because of the massacre at Gaw Kadal and other killings that followed the massacre. A peaceful protest was held by over 4000 people who had gathered at the main Chowk Handwara." 

"A BSF vehicle passed by the protesters. This was seen as a provocation. People were incensed at them. The troopers fired warning shots in air and went into the nearby police station. The police tried to stop them from firing into us protesters but they fired indiscriminately," said Ajaz who is the president of the local Trade Federation.

Ajaz was 17 then.

"I carried the bodies of some the injured on my shoulder and took them to the hospital but they succumbed on way," he said.

The police had registered an FIR into the massacre but all these years nothing has been done, Ajaz said.

"This show how justice is delivered in this place," he said.

Another survivor, Habibullah Khan, said, "People were protesting peacefully when troopers opened fire at them. People hit by bullets were falling in front of me. Some died on the spot and dozens were injured."

The government has been maintaining that only 14 people were shot dead. 

Chairperson International Forum for Justice and Human Rights Ahsan Untoo had filed a petition before the State Human Rights Commission, seeking action against the accused. In response, the director general of police had stated that 14 persons had been killed. 

However, the DGP has not stated that whether the next of the kin of the slain civilians have been compensated.

However, an inquiry conducted by the police into the massacre said: "One Vehicle TATA (Matador) of BSF was passing from the main Chowk Handwara with ration of deployed nafri which was set ablaze by the mob. The nafri of BSF for their self defense opened fire on the mob due to which 21 civilians were killed and 39 injured. The investigation officer namely Inspector Ghulam Mohidin closed the case as untraced on 16 February 1993 (sic)." 

Another survivor, Nazir Ahmad, said the government added insult to their injury by constructing a bunker at the spot where the people were killed.

"A memorial should be built in the main chowk so that our future generations don't forget it," he said.

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