Handwara massacre, 25 years on

Baramulla: Nearly 25 after soldiers killed at least 26 civilians at Handwara in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, the residents of the township await  justice.
“A day after the incident, we reached police station Handwara and filed an FIR against the units of BSF and army. But 25 years later, we are still waiting for the inquiry to begin. We are still waiting for justice,” Ghulam Nabi, who survived the massacre, told Kashmir Reader Saturday.
The incident took place on January 25, 1990—two days after the massacre of civilians had taken place at Gaw Kadal area of Srinagar. According to the locals, the units of BSF and army fired indiscriminately at the civilians allegedly to avenge the attack on two troopers by suspected militants.
About 26 civilians were killed in the incident while scores were injured.
Ishfaq Ahmad, a survivor, recollected: “It was a sunny Monday, and the strike was being observed in the town against the Gaw Kadal massacre. Only some vendors were doing business in the fish market.
“Suddenly, two BSF personnel were attacked when they were buying fish. One of them died on the spot while the other escaped unhurt.”
“Soon after the incident,” he continued, “the BSF personnel arrived in a minibus and started to fire indiscriminately at the public. At the same time, scores of army personnel from 13 Kumaw regiment reached the main market and joined BSF in the indiscriminate firing.”
Ishfaq, who had taken shelter in a three-storey house, said about 26 people, including a policeman, were killed on the spot while more than 100 people received bullets. Besides, he said, about 200 shops, 40 houses, and dozens of other huts and godowns were set ablaze with the help of gunpowder.
Showkat Ahmad, now a teacher, said people had run for cover into the house of a local politician, “but his guards did not allow anyone in.”
“Rather, they too fired at the civilians, injuring many more,” he added.
According to the reports, forces filed a counter FIR against the people, complaining that the civilians had set a vehicle on fire and that the civilians were killed by militants.
To seek justice, the residents of the town observe strike and stage protests on the anniversary of the incident every year.
“It was one of the bloodiest massacres in the history of Kashmir, and people are still waiting for justice. Our wounds still fresh, “President Traders Federation Handwara, Ajaz Ahmad.