Seer Hamdan: Sitting in a corner of the tent erected within the premises of his house, Ghulam Mohiuddin Bhat is keenly listening to a local religious preacher who has come to offer condolences. As the speaker sheds light on the death of a martyr, women inside the room adjacent to the tent begin wailing and crying. The speaker on hearing the wails of the women concludes his speech. Bhat suddenly stands up and goes inside to silence the women. Within minutes, no more wails are heard from the room.
Bhat returns to the tent and sits in the same corner. Once again people come forward to offer him condolences.
“It is a moment of joy and pride that someone in the family died as a martyr. I had gone inside to make the women understand what martyrdom means,” Bhat tells the people around.
His 20-year-old son was killed on Tuesday after government forces fired pellet ammunition at a protest demonstration against raids in the night by government forces in Seer Hamdan town.
“He was unique in all respects. The qualities he possessed cannot be explained. But Allah had sent him and Allah took him back,” Bhat said.
Neighbours and relatives remember Naseer, a BA second-year student, as a man of high manners, staunch freedom lover, and deeply religious.
“For the last two years he would strictly observe the Nimaz on time. He would often talk about Jihad. During the last two months whenever I took him along on some work he always talked about Jihad and Azadi,” said his cousin Firdous Ahmad Bhat.
“On meeting any person who had knowledge of religion, he would insist to be told some Hadith. He was not bothered about worldly comforts, but the passion for cricket had not died in him,” Ahmad said.
His friends said that Naseer in the past one week had been telling them that he wanted to die as a martyr.
“Three days ago he came to my house to get some videos from my cell phone. As I was sharing the videos he told my mother that he would be the first martyr from Seer,” said one of his friends. “He had a great love for cricket. He was counted among the best cricketers of the area. He played many district and state-level cricket tournaments, winning many medals,” said his friend.
At 9:30am on Tuesday, Naseer walked to the front door of his house. As he opened the door, he stood stunned. His neighbour, Ayaz Ahamd Bhat, was being thrashed by three CRPF men. Before he could react, he was shot with a pellet gun from close range.
“And CRPF made sure that he died. They stood next to his body for some time,” said Hanan, a relative, who saw the killing. “When I raised a cry in protest, they ran away.”
Residents of Seer Hamdan say that government forces raided the area at 3am in the night. They thrashed people, shattered windows, and arrested youths. At least 30 people were wounded in this attack and about ten youths arrested.
The residents gathered next day at 9am on the streets to protest. “But we were confronted by forces and they fired teargas shell and pellets indiscriminately at us,” said Mehraj Dar, a resident of Seer Hamdan. “There was so much chaos that we did not know what was happening around us.”
In the clashes that followed, scores were injured. A woman named Jameela suffered damage to her brain and to her eye cortex, leaving her blinded, said the doctor who referred her to a Srinagar hospital on Tuesday.
Naseer was not part of this protest, said his friends and family members. Safia Begum, Naseer’s mother, and her two daughters were inside the room when Naseer was shot at outside his house.
“When they came out of the room, terror struck their eyes. They fell upon the body of Naseer and began beating their chests,” Hanan recalled.
Naseer Ahmad Bhat, born on March 1, 1992, was the youngest of five siblings. He was studying for a BA at Boys Degree College Anantnag. He sometimes worked part-time as a carpenter and sometimes as a shawl hawker, even travelling to outside the state to help his poor father, and to support his studies and to buy cricket kits.
The pellets that hit him sliced open his aorta or main artery, and punctured his lungs. Blood gushed out of his artery like a torrent, witnesses recalled.
Doctors say that if the aorta is damaged, it takes less than ten minutes to die.
Sub District Hospital Anantnag is 300 meters from the house of Naseer. He was taken there in a car by Hanan and other friends, but government forces stopped them at the gate of the hospital. By then he was struggling to breathe and his pupils were dilated.
“It took us ten minutes to convince forces. In the meantime, inside the car, I put my hand on his nose and then on his heart. He was not breathing… I called him again and again to wake up, but it was too late… I put my head on him and cried,” Hanan said.
Doctor Iftikhar at the hospital immediately took Naseer inside the operation theatre and tried CPR to revive him. He said, “There were multiple pellet marks on his body and a big hole in his chest. It appears he was shot from a close range; there was a clear intention to kill him.”
When Doctor Ifthikar tried to press his heart, his left lung came out from his wound. “It took me by surprise. I have never seen anything like that in my career,” the doctor said.
Dr Ifthikar said that the cause of Naseer’s death was massive haemothorax and haemopericardium. He bled to death, that is.
His father Ghulam Bhat is a farmer. When people come to visit him he shows them his empty hands and sighs, “My son has gone.”
Naseer was a well-known cricketer in Anantnag. He had earned a reputation for fast bowling and would bowl the opening over for his team, Seer Eleven.
“In each match he took more than three wickets,” said Mudasir, his teammate.
Naseer had also represented teams like Wonderboys and BC eleven.
In July this year, Shaheed Gilkar Memorial Tournament was organised in Bijbehera in which 104 teams from Kashmir participated. Well-known players like Parvez Rasool and Abid Nabi played in the tournament. Naseer represented BC Eleven and played the first match of the tournament on June 5. “He took two wickets and our team beat Anantnag Loins,” said Asif, his teammate.
Naseer had captained his local team Seer Eleven in many tournaments. Twice he was declared man of the series.
His friends said Naseer also had a craze for bikes. “Whenever he saw a new bike, he craved to ride it,” his friend Mehraj Dar said.
According to his father and brother, Naseer was an obedient and down-to-earth son. Whatever he earned, he handed over to his father.
During the last winter, Naseer worked as a carpenter at the house of a lawyer, Syed Mudasir. He said, “I saw honesty in him. He would sometimes ask me, ‘Have