The Gawkadal Massacre of 1990 is etched in the collective memory of Kashmiris who remember its victims every year, but for the J&K Police the case stands closed and its record lost to the floods of 2014.
The vital documents—which included the preliminary investigation report conducted by the police after the carnage took place—haven’t been preserved by the police department which claims to have lost these in the floods of 2014.
The killing of about 51 protesters in indiscriminate firing by paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force personnel in Srinagar’s Gawkadal locality on January 21, 1990 is, every year, being remembered as one of the worst carnages in the history of Kashmir. 26 years later, the police says the case “stands closed.”
After the massacre, police registered a case vide FIR No 3/90 at Police Station Kralkhud under sections 307, 148, 149 and 153 of Ranbir Penal Code.
A senior police official—who was once posted in East area of Srinagar city—told that soon after the Gawkadal Massacre, a case was registered and the Station House Officer of Kralkhud Police Station asked to investigate it.
The officer, who insisted not to be named, said he vividly remembers the lines written in ‘roznamcha’ (day-book) about the Massacre.
The FIR, he said, mentioned: “An angry procession had gathered, violated curfew, shouting slogans against India and demanding withdrawal of CRPF from the city. When stopped, they pelted stones. The CRPF men opened fire in which some people were killed and injured. Their name, address and parentage could not be ascertained. A case was registered. This is a special case, so SHO will personally investigate it.”
The official said as per the daybook, the statements of several people were recorded during investigations in the case. “I remember one of the eyewitnesses had said that on seeing a big demonstration approaching towards the wooden bridge near GawKadal, the CRPF men panicked and fired indiscriminately on the protestors. The firing left dozens of civilians dead. Everybody was crying,’’ the official said, quoting the eyewitness mentioned in the daybook.
He said the witnesses had told the investigators that personnel of CRPF at its Basantbagh picket at Electrical Division opened indiscriminate fire on people.
He said police had indeed started investigations and identified 21 persons killed in the CRPF firing. “But 51 bodies had brought to the Police Control Room then,” he said.
In 1998, the officer said, the case was closed “after those involved were declared as untraceable.” No charge-sheet was produced against anyone, he said.
“The carnage took place days after Jagmohan was appointed as Governor of J&K to control mass protests in the State. In fact, in the CRPF firing on the procession at Gawkadal, 51 people had been killed,” he said.
The incumbent Station House Officer of Police Station Kralkhud said the case has been closed and “there is no trace of the file.”
“All the records of incident (massacre) have been washed away in the 2014 devastating floods,” he told .
On May 1, 2012, a human rights group—International Forum for Justice and Human Rights Forum—filed a petition in the State Human Rights Commission seeking re-investigation of the case. On December 26 of the same year, the SHRC’s division bench comprising J AKawoosa and RafiqFida ordered re-investigation into the case by its Superintendent of Police. The probe report is awaited.