Gawkadal - Blood Entraps Kashmir's Memory
Kashmir remembers today a gory massacre, 24 years from now, of the people of Srinagar on 21st Jan, 1990.
Kashmiri news photographer Meraj-ud-din described the scene, “When I reached Gawakadal, all I could see were the dead. I saw bodies of children, bodies of women, bodies of men…. Later they brought the bodies to the police compound. I saw them again. There I cried. I shouted, screamed. ‘Don’t do this to the people.’ That day I saw everything.” (Blood in the Snow)
Today, the people of Kashmir protest on the same streets, remembering the terror, the slaughter and the grief and hate instigated by heartless Indian CPRF forces on that day:
‘Defying curfew, people had marched from Batmaloo, Raj Bagh and other localities, forming a 10,000-strong procession in the city’s commercial hub, LalChowk. As it headed for Chotta Bazar, where several women had reportedly been molested by forces personnels during search operations the previous day, the procession was blocked near GawKadal by police and paramilitary contingents. The men in uniform opened indiscriminate fire on the marchers, causing heavy casualties.’ (Kashmir Reader)
In response to the kidnapping of RubaiyaSayeed, daughter of Indian Home Minister at that time, the Indian government appointed JagmohanMalhotra as governor over Kashmir on 19th Jan, 1990. That night, the Indian security forces conducted warrantless and thus illegal house-to-house searches in Srinagar, hunting for illegal weapons or other evidence of support to the militants. The next morning, as word of the searches and beatings began to spread, people began to pour out into the streets of Srinagar. From the mosques, loudspeakers urged Kashmiris to come out and fight for azaadi or freedom. Thousands of Kashmiris gathered to protest the actions of the security forces. (Shootings at Gawakadal, Srinagar)
It is reported that unrest and struggle for freedom has been boiling beneath the soil since a year before this event, and this massacre and the usual oblivion of the Indian side upon the resentments of the Kashmiri people over this mishappening only ignited the fire already smoldering in the Kashmiri youth. The oblivion is obvious in Jagmohan’s statement soon after. Victoria Schofield copies it in her book Kashmir in Conflict; he said:
‘Every Muslim in Kashmir is a militant today. All of them are for secession from India… The bullet is the only solution for Kashmir…’
Those who are altruistic to human dignity and worth may not like to look at the matter from the Pakistan standpoint or the Indian one or that of any other entity for that matter, but only from the Kashmir point of vision, as any human or humanright assessment cannot be complete without valuing the Kashmiris as thinking and feeling humans, equal to the level of any aspiring community of the world.
The standpoint of the people of Kashmir must certainly be in two priorities; firstly to rid themselves of the day to day indignity and injustice; to have for themselves the basic rights in education, trade and industry that they have been so much deprived of due to the unequal policies of the Indian government towards them; and if this is not achievable, which has proven not to be, to turn to a struggle for freedom, as the only way to achieve these ends.
Yes, the solution for Kashmir may lie in the human factor; if the Indian government could have grasped this in more than six decades that treating the Kashmiris equally, deeming them the self-respect that is part of being human, and opening to them all respectable opportunities of life was the only sure wayto have Kashmir with heart and mind. But, apparently, it is the irony of human nature that it holds on to an uncertainty principle of ‘the more imperialistic you behave the more blind you are turned to basic human instincts’. It seems that ‘fear’ accompanies occupation as an integral part, and it seems that whatever may come, India would not behave humane with Kashmir.
If the people of Kashmir would have been contented, free to decide upon their future, secure with their lives and properties, in peace with their sense of self-respect and self-determination, and able to reach to the larger human community withmutual honor and parallel as desired by all human communities,then why would the people of Kashmir be in a mode of agitation? Perhaps India will never circumvent to the idea that its hate and abuse were the factors that had to yield hate and abuse only in return and not love and respect. For if India had any high human values to offer to the people of Kashmir, there would not have been an issue of a plebiscite or demilitarization or secession in the first place. Let’s stop babbling now, why would India ever love or respect or be a beneficiary to the people of Kashmir, when it finds itself looking good in the clothes of butchery and tyranny and prides itself for being one of the top-rated offenders of human rights in the world?
So back to stated positions announced time and again by the two states: India will not free Kashmir and Pakistan will not free Kashmir either, both will keep their occupied lands! Let’s assume for once that Pakistan is also an occupier, then is there a list of human rights abuses made by any international human rights agency, has the UN passed any resolutions against Pakistan for committing or attempting genocide or acts leading to genocide upon the people of Kashmir on the side it occupies? Does the Pakistan Army control the day to day life and movement of the people of Kashmir on their side, or do the people of Kashmir on this side deem the democratic process in their state to be a complete undermining of the word ‘democracy’ itself? Are the people of Pak-occupied Kashmir barred from getting passports or visas for travelling in and out of their state? And the list of questions may go on and on…
So what should be the policy of a state in a world full of many dichotomies; where tyranny is easily camouflaged under the cover of democracy; where abusers deem themselves as saviors and where an army of rapists and murderers deem themselves as protectors? What can be the policy of the sheep that finds itself ambushed in the snare of wolves? Should Pakistan leave its brothers in faith and its very next neighbors alone under suppression and exploitation? Should we, like the larger global community, accept India as a great democracy and submit to its dream of being a regional hegemon and just work upon the utility-principle in trade, culture and human rights? Is that human? Or is that piggishness?!
The GawKadal massacre is one out of the long list of heinous crimes committed upon humanity by India. GawKadal calls upon humanity today that cold murder of innocent, unarmed civilian protesters, men, women and children, is a cry upon which humanity should have gathered to remedy. GawKadal is a question mark upon humanity; it asks how the human genus rests upon the perverse indignity inflicted upon one of their kind. GawKadal asks humanity for its own retrospection today!