January 25, 1990: When BSF gunned down 25 in Handwara

Handwara: The memory of the Border Security Force (BSF) killing 25 people in this north Kashmir town sends shivers down the spines of survivors, even 24 years later.
On January 25 , 1990, two BSF patrolling parties opened indiscriminate fire upon thousands of peaceful and unarmed people, who were protesting against the massacre of 52 people by CRPF troopers in Maisuma locality of Srinagar four days earlier . 25 people were slain in the BSF firing in the Township, the second massacre that took place after Jagmohan was sworn in as the governor of Jammu and Kashmir to curb anti-India uprising.
“We were protesting peacefully against the Maisuma massacre, when a BSF van (HVN/7717) appeared at the main town. Within no time, the LMG mounted on the van started firing indiscriminately. The foot soldiers also loaded their rifles and joined in the carnage,” recalls Ghulam Nabi Lone, a survivor.
19 people, he said, died on the spot after sustaining multiple bullet injuries. Six others, he said, died at the different hospitals.
“The injured were countless. It was a doomsday. Everyone was running for life. Some people like me made it, while many died while trying,” says Lone.
Abdul Rashid, another eyewitness says that he was surprised how he survived on that day, even as he saw bodies piling up in the crowded town square.
“Apart from the armoured vehicles, the BSF foot patrols at the market also opened random fire upon the protesters. Three people died in front of me, countless were injured. I wonder what stopped them from killing me,” he said.
He said that a man, who had suffered bullet injuries, was running for his life when a group of four troopers cornered him and emptied their guns on him.
“He died on the spot. I was helplessly looking towards him. When I regained my senses, I ran towards my house. I bolted my house from inside and started crying like a baby,” he added.
Recounting the horror, President Trader’s Federation, Handwara, Shabir Ahmad said that cries of the innocent protesters, who fell to the bullets of the trigger happy troopers will haunt him till death.
“24 years have passed but recalling those moments send shivers down my spine. I witnessed the gory dance of death and destruction. I saw people collapsing and crying mercilessly for help,” he said.
Every year on the massacre anniversary, he says, the town observes a complete shutdown to pay homage to the victims.
Javed Ahmad, another survivor says that five days after the massacre, the locals visited the police station and filed a case against the BSF troopers. However, 24 years down the line, he says justice remains elusive.
“Police had then assured us that the killers will be taken to task. However, 24 years have passed but nothing has been done. And I’m sure nothing will happen. We have to live with truth that justice is impossible,” he adds.