SHRC To Probe Gaw Kadal Massacre

Takes Decision As Govt Fails To Respond In 8 Hearings Since May

SRINAGAR: In a defiant move, the State Human Rights Commission has decided to investigate the 1990 Gaw Kadal massacre in which the police and paramilitary forces mowed down over 50 persons and left over a hundred injured by opening fire on protest demonstrations.

The SHRC’s decision came after the government repeatedly failed to answer notices on eight hearings held since May this year over a petition filed by Kashmir-based human rights organisations.

In a hearing on Wednesday, a division bench of the Commission directed its investigations wing to conduct the probe, asking the head of the wing, superintendent of police (SP) Shaukat Ahmad, to submit his report by February 26.  

In a petition filed before the SHRC on May 1 this year, the chairman of the Human Rights Forum and the International Forum for Justice, Muhammad Ahsan Untoo, had prayed orders to set up a special investigation team in the massacre that took place on January 21 nearly 22 years ago.

The petition says that the police and paramilitary forces under the then deputy superintendent of the police (DSP) for that area, Allah Bakhsh (who retired as a deputy inspector general (DIG) of the police, and passed away recently), had opened indiscriminate fire on thousands of protestors in Gaw Kadal, 50 persons dead and 250 injured.

The petition stresses that the police and the CRPF opened deliberate fire on peaceful protestors and targeted chests and heads with intent to kill.

It has accused the then DSP of having hatched a conspiracy leading to a grave violation of human rights.

The petition mentions that the police first information report (FIR) under the number 3/1990 filed in the Kral Khud precinct records only the deaths of only 21 persons.

Even this FIR was filed when human rights organisations pressed the government of India to conduct an investigation into the massacre, it says.

Significantly, the FIR accuses protestors of having attacked police and paramilitary personnel.

The petition says that no investigations have been held into the massacre so far, and the no action taken against the police and paramilitary personnel involved.

Apart from the home departments in the state and the central governments, the petition has named the director general of the police (DGP), the SP East, the station house officer (SHO) of the Kral Khud police precinct, the former DSP at Kothi Bagh, and the DIG of the CRPF for the Kashmir range as respondents.

It has prayed the Commission to set up a special investigation team for a complete probe of the massacre and recommend compensation for the kin of the victims.

It has also asked for a separate FIR against the then DSP of the area.

On the first hearing of the petition on May 1, the SHRC had issued notices to the DGP,  the union home secretary, the state home secretary and the IGP Kashmir, calling for a report on the massacre.

The petition has come up for hearing before the Commission eight times since, but there has been no response either from the government or from the security agencies.

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