A Pandit recalls Gaw Kadal massacre

SRINAGAR: For Manohar Lal, a Pandit living in the periphery of Gaw Kadal area, January 21, 1991 is the most dreadful day of his life.

“Everyone was wailing and blood was all around,” said Lal, now a retired government servant. On January 20, 1990, CRPF had barged into several houses in an old city locality called Chota Bazar. Scared that the protests would erupt against the incident, authorities imposed restrictions in Srinagar on January 21, 1990.   

Next day, a demonstration against Chota Bazar incident at Gawkadal was fired upon resulting into the death of 50 persons, according to various Human rights organizations. Protesters in large number were also injured.

Lal, who still along with his family resides in the same locality, said that he was in his home when he heard the thuds of bullets all around. “Then there were screams and cries. I peeped through my window and what I saw at that time still traumatizes me. I still get sleepless nights when I recall that incident.”

During the years of militancy, Lal along with his family stayed in Kashmir when all his relatives fled valley. “I have witnessed all the gory scenes here. I stand witness to the events that how innocents were killed and tortured everyday during that period.”

Stating that Gawkadal massacre was one of the unfortunate events in Kashmir’s history, Lal recalled that the injured were ferried in boats via Jehlum to the health centres. “The people who sustained the bullet injuries were crying with pain and even some died in boats as people were taking them to hospitals.”

Lal, 64, says that he keeps on narrating the woeful tales of valley to his children. “I didn’t move out from my home after Gawkadal incident for one month. Our Muslim neighbors used to provide us the essentials. The incident has shook me within and I don’t want to recall that I again.  I pray to God that whatever happened in the past must not happen again.”

His wife Rachna, said that when she went to market a month after the Gawkadal incident, many people told her to leave valley so that they could remain safe outside. “I told them that we have decided to be here. This is home, the place of our ancestors. We should be together in both harsh and good times.”

Lal says that every year he participates in protest demonstrations on January 21 against the Gawkadal massacre. “I participate in the demonstration to register my silent protest against the incident that took place before my eyes.”

“While participating in the demonstration, I keep a secret,” said Lal, adding, “I do not tell other protesters that I am a Pandit.” (KNS)

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