January 21, 1990: 52 Innocent Kashmiris Killed, over 250 Injured

KL NEWS NETWORK

SRINAGAR

A soldier stands guard in Bohri Kadal on January 22, 1990 a day after the massacre — Photo: Mehraj Din
A soldier stands guard in Bohri Kadal on January 22, 1990 a day after the massacre — Photo: Mehraj Din

It was this day (January 21, 1990), twenty-six years ago, when at least 52 Kashmiri innocent civilians were butchered by India’s Central Reserve Police Force in the heart of the Srinagar city when thousands of people took out a massive anti-India procession.

Number of people who witness the bloodshed told CNS that anti-India sentiments were running deep and the city was reverberating with pro-freedom slogans. “On January 21, 1990, the whole city was under siege, massive search and crackdown operations were carried out to trace out the militants. The news of women being molested and hundreds of people being arrested by the Indian forces on the directions of the then Governor Jagmohan sent shockwaves throughout Srinagar city,” a witness said.

Some of the witnesses said that a procession actually started from Ikhrajpora that swelled up as it passed through lanes and bye lanes of the civil lines areas. Young and old, filled with anger came on the streets. Bubbling with the sentiment of freedom, the slogans sent sound waves which broke the cold air.

As the procession reached Maisuma, the Indian Troops were assembled at the Gowkadal Bridge, to thwart the protests. The resonance of the slogans kept the procession going; they were unaware of what was going to happen. As soon as they stepped on the bridge, the sounds of Light Machine Gun (LMG) and AK 47 surrounded them. Bullets were fired. People were falling like the pack of cards. Some people jumped over the bridge to save their lives.

Boy kisses the stone bearing the record of the massacre in Gaw Kadal.
Boy kisses the stone bearing the record of the massacre in Gaw Kadal.

Twently-four years old youth Abdul Rouf according to eyewitnesses saved scores of people. He confronted a CRPF trooper who emptied the whole magazine (32 bullets) into his chest.

According to eyewitnesses 18 bullets were shot in the stomach of a budding youth Irfan Ahmed after troopers found him breathing among the dead. Entire carbine was emptied in the chest of the neighbor of this youth who was later identified as Farooq Ahmed. They kept shooting, until everyone at the bridge was dead. “Some pretended to be dead and thus survived.”

As the sounds of bullets got down, the bridge and the road was full of bodies. It was a scene from a war. The blood was rushing down the road into the river below making the water red.

Fifty two people died and 250 sustained bullet injuries. However, the official death toll was put at 21. Police registered the FIR vide number 3/1990 at Kralkhud Police Station but it was registered against the “atrocious mob”. Nothing was written against the CRPF and Police action. The case stands closed and the culprits untraceable.

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