Lack of cooperation by BSF unit involved in January 25, 1990, Handwara massacre, police tells SHRC

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Srinagar

On January 25, 1990, 21 people fell to bullets of the paramilitary BSF men in Handwara area of Kupwara district. Barely, four days after Gaw Kadal massacre in Srinagar where 52 unarmed civilians were shot dead by the paramilitary CRPF men.

On this day, the spokesman said that people were killed when around 10,000 people were heading towards Handwara Chowk to protest against the Gawkadal massacre.

An FIR vide NO- 10/1990 stands registered at Police station Handwara under sections 307, 151, 53, 427, 336, 449, 448, 436, 435–A. Police have cited that all the accused BSF men are untraceable.  “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,” the spokesman of chairman International Forum for Justice and Human Rights (IFJHR) said.

THE INCIDENT:  “It had been almost a year now that resistance had been gradually spreading in Kashmir. The month of January brought with it news of heavy deployment of BSF and CRPF in the Valley. Massive protests and curfews in Kashmir had become the order of the day by that time. Soon news of Jagmohan taking over as the Governor of J&K was received and on the first night of Jagmohan’s tenure curfew was imposed in the entire Valley,” said Abdur Rashid, an eye-witness.

On Jan 21, 22, 23, 24 there were massive protests in entire Kashmir including Handwara town of Kupwara district against the Gawkadal massacre. On Jan 24, an organized protest programme was devised and all the people were asked to assemble at Handwara chowk and take part in a protest demonstration.

On Jan 25, thousands of people from Ramhal, Vilgam, Rajwar, Kandi, Nagarwari, Qaziabad, Qalamabad, Kulangam and adjoining areas started pouring in at Handwara Chowk.

In Handwara, people were hoisting green flags amid pro-freedom, anti- India and anti-Jagmohan slogans at the time. At around 11 am, a large procession from the Ramhal area had reached Handwara chowk via Magam route.

A TATA- 407 vehicles of BSF from Waripora Handwara, (No. HVN-7717) appeared near police station Handwara and tried to make its way through the procession, protestors didn’t allow it to pass on, this infuriated the BSF men who opened fire on the unarmed protestors, there was retaliation from the protestors who resorted to stone pelting, and they even set the BSF vehicle on fire.

BSF troopers showered the bullets entered into the police station Handwara and ransacked the records and furniture in there and beat up policemen.

Habibullah Khan (Eye-witness)

“When the procession was passing though Handwara Police Station, the BSF fired at us,” recalled Habibullah Khan a survivor who was part of the procession.

According to Khan, 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,” he said.

Khan added that the mere thought of that day sends shivers down his spine. “The BSF troopers had gone berserk. Doomsday cannot be worse than what I witnessed. Within minutes bodies were piling on streets and blood was scattered everywhere.I escaped miraculously in the indiscriminate firing, BSF men didn’t allow us initially to remove the injured to the hospital,” he added..

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