Srinagar, May 20: “Bodies were lying all around me. Blood was profusely oozing out from my legs. I held my breath, acted as dead and was shocked to see security personnel frisking the pockets of dead and robbing them of their belongings,” a witness of 21 May, 1990, Srinagar bloodshed shared the horror with Current News Service.
Tahir Ahmed Baba, a resident of Mashal Mohalla Hawal, was 17 when on 21 May, 1990, he heard that gunmen in Old City had assassinated Mirwaiz Muhammad Farooq. Security personnel killed scores of mourners by firing upon Mirwaiz’s funeral procession. Baba was one of the few fortunate people who survived in that bloodbath though he is physically handicapped now as one of his legs was amputated.
Recounting the nightmare, Baba said militants had called for complete civil curfew for three days when the news about the killing of Mirwaiz broke. “I along with other people managed to reach at Sher-i-Kahsmir Institute of Medical Science (SKIMS) through interiors of city though security personnel had sealed every nook and corner. Thousands of people including women were waiting outside SKIMS wailing and crying,” he said. Baba added that funeral procession of Mirwaiz Farooq started from SKIMS itself and passed through roads amid pro-freedom and anti-India slogans.
“People in thousands, especially youth and women, were seen moving towards Soura. With each step the procession was swelling as passersby and others joined in, chanting pro-freedom slogans.” “Security forces deployed on roads retreated at every point, as the procession was very huge. However the situation changed when people reached near Islamia College. A huge contingent of security personnel had been kept ready to prevent the procession from moving forward. They had blocked the road with vehicles,” Baba said, adding, the security personnel deployed on roads did not fire upon the procession.
“There was a security camp inside Islamia College and the security personnel from that camp fired indiscriminately on people. The continuous firing created panic. Opposite to Islamia College was Animal Husbandry Office and I witnessed people who climbed over the wall of that office were hit by bullets and they fell down. I tried to jump from the wall and suddenly bullets pierced my legs and I fell over bodies,” Baba said.
He remembers that the body of Mirwaiz was lying in the middle of the road and whosoever was coming close to it was being shot by security personnel. He said there was uproar from everywhere. People were crying. Road was filled with blood.
“Those who were lying injured were crying for help and I was one among them. Scores of security personnel walked over bodies and shot those whom they found crying for help. I was scared and held my breath. What I saw shocked me. Forces were frisking the dead opening their pockets and robbing them. They (security personnel) were snatching golden earrings and chains and finger rings from the dead women,” he vividly remembers. He said a large contingent of forces was brought in to wash the blood on roads. “They sprayed buckets of water on roads, cleared it and fled from the scene. When people saw the troopers fleeing, they came and put the bodies into pushcarts. All the injured were rushed to SKIMS and I was one among them. Due to blood loss my both legs had become dysfunctional, however due to efforts of doctors one of my leg was saved while the other was amputated,” he said.
“That was a nightmare for me and I think what British did in Jallianwala Bagh was repeated by India on 21 May 1990 in Srinagar,” he said. Pertinently, 72 people, including four women, were killed on that day. “The total number of persons who got killed were 72 but the list available with us is of 52 people including 4 women Shakila Banoo, Jalla Begam, Shamima Akhtar and Fatima Banoo,” he said.