Gowkadal Massacre: A top govt official recalls

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Describing the horror of Gowkadal massacre, witnesses’ memories are still fresh. They still have the horrible scene, gun shots, and the dance of death on roads and injured crying for help before their eyes.

One of the witnesses Farooq Ahmad Wani could not stop his tears while describing the scene. “I was posted as assistant executive engineer in PHE those days. There was no availability of drinking water in some localities of city. Curfew was imposed and I as a responsible officer got some curfew passes from Deputy Commissioner Srinagar to ensure drinking water through tanks to the general public. I was not allowed to proceed at Jahagir Chowk by CRPF and Policemen already deployed there,” said Wani.

He said that he opted for Gowkadal route to reach at Habbakadal. “As soon as I reached at Gowkadal bridge, CRPF men opened unprovoked firing on the procession resulting in killing of innocent Kashmiris,” he added.

He said that there was no space to move towards to the safer place as bullets were coming from every side and he lied on the bride, adding, “My face on the ground was touching the burning charcoal. As soon as the gun shots stopped I pulled my head a bit upward”.

He said that one of the CRPF shouted “Sir he is still alive” after he had seen him making movement. He said that officer pointed gun towards him to kill but Wani quickly responded that he was a government officer on duty, adding, “It didn't make any effect against the intention of that CRPF officer and he fired several bullets upon me resulting in deadly injuries”.

He said the injured that could make any sign indicating they were alive were shot dead.

Terming the massacre intentional, he continues, “Another CRPF officer who saw me wanted to kill me after seeing me alive. It was another colleague who said to him that not to waste bullets as the injured (Wani) will die himself shortly”.

The eyewitness, former Managing Director JK Cements, Wani, said that the injured persons were boarded in a transport. “I was observing the surroundings when I opened my eyes. It was moment of courage hearing the people around me speaking Kashmiri language and I found myself at PCR where I was referred to hospital for treatment,” said Wani.

Wani said that the massacre is the worst stigma in the history of Kashmir and the involved persons should be brought to justice.

Wani, who has retired as Chief Mechanical Engineer, said that after his recovery when he joined office back, he was offered reward by then governor’s advisor Hameedullah Khan which he refused to take and asked Khan to set the independent commission to hold inquiry into the Gowkadal massacre, adding, “It was the massacre of peaceful and unarmed civilians. The perpetrators of this heinous crime have to bring to the justice”.

Rouf Ali whose father Ali Mohammad was also killed on during same massacre demanded that the culprits should be hanged.

Pertinently, on 21st of January 1990 a peaceful demonstration protesting against Chota Bazar molestation, at Gow Kadal, Srinagar was allegedly fired by troops causing death of 50 persons and injuries to several others.

Police FIR maintains 22 people were killed while rights groups and separatist say over 50 people died in the massacre.

Meanwhile, International Forum for Justice / Human Rights Forum has urged the Inquiry Officer to conduct an impartial probe.

“(IFJHRF) J&K feels satisfied with SHRC order and urges the inquiry officer to conduct this inquiry in free and impartial manner. We urge the government officials to cooperate in the fresh inquiry so that justice can be delivered to the family members of the victims of Gow Kadal massacre,” said a spokesman of  IFJHRF.

IFJHRF (J&K) had on May 1, 2012 filed a petition in State Human Rights Commission (SHRC). The SHRC later issued notices to Director General of Police, Union Home Secretary, J&K Home Secretary and IGP Kashmir to submit their reports on the incident.

The massacre happened just a day after the Government of India appointed Jamohan as the Governor in a bid to control the mass protests by Kashmiris.