Gaw Kadal Anniversary: Lal-Chowk, Adjoining Areas Observe Shutter Down

Srinagar: It has been over 31 years since 21 January 1990, when the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel opened fire on a procession passing over the bridge that connects Basant Bagh with Maisuma, in Srinagar, killing at least 52 people and injured 250 according to survivors and media reports.

The major killing that took place under Janta Dal rule of the then Prime Minister VP Singh became known as the ‘Gaw Kadal massacre’ and now is usually marked by a shutdown.

The shutdown was observed in Lal-Chowk and surrounding areas and parts of downtown on Thursday.

The forces conducted house to house searches during the preceding night that day to search for militants and trace the weapons and other ammunition which according to them was kept in the houses of locals. The word spread among the people that during the house to house searches by forces, several women were molested and it sparked protests.

A large number of people came out on roads and began to march towards the old city area of Srinagar. The procession from areas like Magarmal Bagh, Padshahi Bagh, Kursoo-Rajbagh, Jawahar Nagar and Mehjoor Nagar reached Lal Chowk and began to move towards the old city via Gaw Kadal.

At Ghanta Ghar, Lal Chowk, the police officer DySP Allah Bakhsh, stopped the procession and forced them to move towards Gaw-Kadal via Maisuma. As people reached the Gaw Kadal Bridge, the CRPF personnel already deployed there opened indiscriminate fire in panic. Scores of people were killed and injured.

Police registered FIR number 3/1990 at Police Station Kral Khud Srinagar on 21-01-1990. The sections charged in the FIR were 148, 149, 307, 188 RPC, 153 RPC.

According to the FIR, people from different parts converged at Gaw-Kadal defying curfew. The people were raising slogans against Indian government and had demanded demilitarization of Kashmir. Police in its FIR mentioned the death of 22 persons.

In February 2019, the police said they had closed the investigation into the 1990 Gaw Kadal killings case saying they found no clue to trace the accused persons. The police in their reply to the State Human Rights Commission had also said the records pertaining to the incident were lost in the 2014 floods.  (KDC)

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