HT reporter was there ? ducking bullets, watching
POLITICIANS WERE making speeches. The audience was indifferent. The chief guest was running late. At the Congress rally -- organised to mark the death anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi -- at the Sher-e-Kashmir Park in Srinagar on Sunday, it was all normal and boring.
Around 1.10 p.m., there were deafening gunshots — and everything changed.
Being in the firing line, I panicked. I jumped from the media podium to save myself but injured my nose, probably fractured it. The chair I was sitting on was hit by around 25 to 30 bullets.
Then I saw a man wearing a new police uniform and carrying two AK-47 rifles. He started firing indiscriminately. His AK-47 magazine fell to the ground. A civilian, mistaking the fidayeen for a police personnel, picked it up and returned it to him.
People were running for their lives. I heard cries and saw people hit by bullets lying in pools of blood. Next, there was a big bang. The gunmen had lobbed a grenade. Thinking that the uniform-wearing militant was their colleague, the police did not fire at him.
Soon news broke that bullets had hit IGP K. Rajinder, DSP Faisal Ahmed and an SHO. I ran and hid behind a wall. Bullets chased me. Then I heard bullets hitting the wall. I started to crawl and, along with many others, took refuge in a shed inside the park. I saw men fainting and women weeping. Inside the shed, people lay over one another.
There was lull for some time and we thought of escaping, but a policeman forbade us. Then Ishfaqul Hassan of the DNA newspaper came to our rescue. He brought an ambulance to carry out people; the police and administration were busy ferrying VIPs from the spot.
I ran for the vehicle -- with bullets chasing me -- and managed to board it. I got dropped near Zero Bridge, a few hundred metres away from the Sher-e-Kashmir Park. A couple of grenade blasts were heard, followed by gunshots. Everyone around me was afraid and hid themselves in a drain.
Then I took a safe route to Lal Chowk -- relieved that I had survived.