Partial shutdown on Gawkadal anniversary

SRINAGAR: Parts of summer capital Srinagar observed a shutdown Tuesday to mark anniversary of 1990 Gowkadal massacre – when more than 50 people were killed by paramilitary forces by indiscriminate firing on an unarmed procession at Gawkadal. 

Shops and business establishments remained closed in and around city centre and adjoining localities including Gowkadal, where separatist outfit Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) led a peach march to the massacre venue. 

Around noon, dozens of youth appeared at Maisuma and staged pro-freedom and anti-India demonstrations. Shouting slogans, the protesters tried to march towards Budshah Chowk. However, CRPF and police resorted to cane charge and fired teargas shells to disperse the protesters. Police action triggered protests in the area.

When the clashes ended, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Chairman, Mohammad Yasin Malik joined by scores of his supporters took out a rally from party headquarters Maqbool Manzil to Gaw Kadal to pay homage to the victims.

Malik described Jan 21 as an important day of Kashmir history. 

“The sole aim of India was to terrorize people of Kashmir through these brutal massacres and put an end on their march towards freedom but India failed in doing so as despite all these killings and oppressive measures, people have continued their revolution and march towards freedom,” Malik said. 

Addressing the gathering, Malik made a fervent appeal to the youth to stay away from the elections aimed at strengthening the ‘Indian occupation’ in Jammu and Kashmir. Without naming any pro-India group, the JKLF chairman said that the youth will be lured and exploited by the elements on the issues like employment, electricity, water and roads to keep them away from the ongoing freedom movement.

“It’s the state assembly and the legislators who have authorized Indian forces to commit human rights abuses in Kashmir under the shield of draconian laws,” he said.

“The youth must remain cautious to defeat the nefarious designs of anti movement elements. Stay away from elections and safeguard the supreme sacrifices offered by Kashmiris. Don’t let the sacrifices go in vain,” he added.

Referring to the mass uprisings of 2008 and 2010, Malik said that the peaceful protests that saw deaths of hundreds of people, mostly youth, brought Kashmir into limelight and the International community debated the issue threadbare.

“But as soon as the drum of 2008 elections was beaten, the same youth were assigned the task to hoist flags and stickers of pro-India parties,” he said.

PPP chief, Hilal Ahmad War, who also visited the massacre site, told the gathering that Gaw Kadal massacre was a well thought plan of the then Home Ministry of India to ‘pave the way for Kashmiri Pandits exodus from Kashmir’. He also demanded the arrest and punishment for the perpetrators who killed the innocent civilians in cold blood.

“If Omar Abdullah is sincere about his much talked about ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’ he has now the golden opportunity to start the Truth and Reconciliation Commission by punishing the killers and conspirators of Gawkadal Massacre,” he said. .

A Hurriyat (G) also delegation visited Gowkadal and held prayers for the martyrs. The delegation emphasized on the sacrifices and stature of martyrs and reiterated that the ‘freedom struggle’ will continue till its logical end and nobody would be allowed to construct palaces and make political fortunes on the name of martyrs. 

A Hurriyat (M) delegation visited Dalgate and other areas of Srinagar to offer Fateh khwani and pay tributes to the martyrs of Gaw Kadal massacre.

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