With nearly two-third of January gone and almost all of our new year resolutions broken, the day of 20th January 2013 dawned to the 23rd anniversary of a brutal, ghastly incident which ironically most people don’t know about. I confess that even I was among those who didn’t know about this incident until some of my Twitter friends alerted me. So to that entire generation which doesn’t even know where Gawkadal is, here’s a summarised account.
On the night of 19thJanuary 1990, Mr. Jagmohan was appointed as the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, despite wide disapproval from the populace as well as the state government. In fact, the state government led by then Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, resigned in protest. The very same night, the CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) carried out unwarranted raids and inspections in Srinagar and arrested thousands of innocent people. Next morning when the word of the arrests got out, thousands of protesters poured out on the streets in anti-government marches, much similar to the outrage over the recent Delhi Gang Rape incident. In the evening, the protesters reached Srinagar’s wooden bridge over the Jhelum River named Gawkadal Bridge. To control this supposed unruly crowd, the CRPF opened fire on them, resulting in the death of 51(government toll) or 281(estimated toll). Also, thousands of people died as they had jumped into the river out of fear and drowned.
23 years later, Kashmir still awaits justice. The police buried the investigation as “untraceable” and Delhi did everything to bury it. After all which government would want to have this on their resume? But the truth of the matter remains that this incident was no less brutal than the horrific Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Anyone devoid of sympathy, here’s a food for thought. Hundreds of people died before seeing the Internet. Many kids were orphaned just because some idiots in Delhi wanted power. Women were widowed because the government lacked the balls to take on a peaceful protest headfirst. As the 21stCentury citizens of India, we have learned to show our displeasure and annoyance at the government. But our forerunners were brutally massacred and ironically, almost no one knew. All I ask for is awareness, sympathy and respect. Awareness about this disgusting use of fascist fanatic force to crush the voice of the commoners. Sympathy for the original protesters who bravely gave up their lives for something they believed was right. Respect for the entire population of Kashmir, where (and I quote), “Every prayer is to beg god for a moment of peace in his heaven on earth.”
The need of the hour is crystal clear. India is awakening and the iron is red hot, ready to be struck. It’s time we change. I hope we change. Soon, Fast and Now.