January 25, 1990: When BSF men massacred 21 unarmed civilian portesters at Handwara in north Kashmir

This Day in 1990: When BSF mowed down 21 people in Handwara (Kashmir).


That day it was really a melancholy sight. Harsh icy winds sweeping around had left the streets numb breathless. But the rage caused by savage killing of 52 unarmed civilians by the CRPF at Gawkadal in Srinagar four days back (January 21) had put the minds and hearts on fire. Street protests were the natural corollary of the ghastly incident.

On Jan 25, thousands of people from Ramhal, Vilgam, Rajwar, Kandi, Nagarwari, Qaziabad, Qalamabad, Kulangam and adjoining areas took out a procession to register their anger against Gawkadal killings. Over 10,000 people gathered at the main chowk of the town raising slogans and carrying banners.

The protests demonstration was peaceful by all means, even by the government standards as well.

It was around 11 am when a BSF vehicle (TATA- 407,No. HVN-7717), carrying a posse of the BSF men appeared on the scene. The vehicle tried to make its way through the process.

According to eyewitnesses, since the gathering was quite huge and the BSF vehicle could not get its way through which infuriated the personnel on board.

They opened fire on the demonstrators. Other BSF men deployed in the town also joined their colleagues and fired indiscriminately.

At least 19 people died on spot while two others succumbed to their injuries in the hospital later.

The mob attacked the BSF vehicle later and set it on fire.

This was second major massacre in a week (after Gawkadal) since Jagmohan had taken over the reins of the state administration.

The Armed Forces Special Act was not in force then. Still no action was taken against the guilty.

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