Ganowpora, Shopian: Sayar Ahmad Sheikh, a resident of Ganowpora, Shopian, was excited about joining what was probably the first big protest of his life.
“He groomed himself well in the morning, went for prayers, came home and wore new clothes as if he was going for a wedding,” said Danish, his friend.
“He came to me at 8:30 am and asked me to accompany him. I told him ‘are you serious about joining protests?’ He said ‘it is necessity.’” Sayar went along with his six friends to Tukur, about 8km from Ganowpora, without telling anyone at home where he was going.
His father Shameem Ahmad Sheikh and elder brother, Shafayat had gone a few days ago to Tral for labour work. His elder sister and mother were staying at home. Sayar is the youngest of the three siblings, born on 16 March 2003. He was studying in class 9.
His maternal uncle Mohammad Rafiq Lone, was the one who looked after Sayar as his father, a poor man, was out of home often for work.
“I went to his home in the morning. I asked about him. They told me he has gone away with his friends,” the uncle said.
“I was doubtful and I thought where he would go in this early morning. He has never gone out like this. Then I quickly enquired about him from villagers. They told me they saw Sayar with this friends going for protest march.”
“My heart bled when I heard it. I don’t know why I felt something might happen to him there,” his uncle recalled.
Mohammad Rafiq, along with few villagers, hastened to reach there and get him back.
Abid Ahmad Khan recalled that Sayar told him he wanted to come back as martyr to his home.
Abid was one among the friends accompanying him. “He would frequently raise his hands towards the sky and pray ‘Ya Allah. I want Shahdah. I want to die a martyr.’ We would tell him, you are the youngest in your family. Don’t say that.”
When these friends reached Tengwun, there were clashes going on between protesters and government forces who were stopping people from reaching Tukur, where people had planned a freedom rally.
About 3000 people were clashing with the police, said Muzamil Ahmad Fallay, an eyewitness.
“We were chased by forces from front and back side. There was nowhere to go. We literally hit the dead end,” he said.
Sayar, along with his friends, were finding a way to get out from there. But a policeman, hiding in a lane, came out and shot with pellet gun from a very close at Sayar, targeting his head, said Rayees Ahmad, his friend and key eyewitness.
“As he fell three CRPF troopers came near him and shot a tear smoke canister at his head again,” Rayees said.
His brain matter had spilled on the road, said Zubair, his friend, who saw it from a distance.
Forces didn’t allow his friends to take him to the hospital. He then received violent kicks on his belly for two minutes and when forces sensed he is not moving, they went away, said Zubair.
“As we were taking him in a car to nearby community hospital in Rajpore he was paralysed. He said nothing. We told him can you breathe? He struggled to breathe. He wanted to talk, but he couldn’t,” said Zubair.
His uncle reached the clash site and he was told a boy named Sayar was killed.
“I felt down on my knees,” he said. “My fears had come true.”
His uncle ran towards the hospital where Sayar was put on a trolley and was given a CPR.
“I tried to embrace him and he raised his left hand once. The hand fell slowly and he took his last breath,” Rafiq said.
Sayar had spent Friday picking walnuts and apples from trees.
His brother Shafafyat said he was determined to study hard and become a helping hand for his poor father.
Mushtaq Ahmad, Sayar’s teacher, said the boy was the topper in his class and he has always been active and quick learner.
“He was remarkable in mathematics,” he said.
In his 8th class, he has secured 96%, becoming the first one to do so in the government higher secondary school, Narapora,
His friends said he was very shy and would never speak about his career plans.
“There was always something going on in his mind. He used to be thoughtful,” said Shariyar, his classmate.
On Friday night, Sayar has asked Shariyar for two hundred rupees as his father was not at home. He has not told him why he needed the money.
“Maybe he wanted to buy something as he told me he is going for protest march on Saturday,” his friend said.
Shameem Ahmad, father of slain Sayar, tells congregation after the funeral that he is proud his son has died as martyr and he expects people to respect it and be persistent about Azadi.
His mother, Naseema Banoo, cries, “Where did you go, my dearest?”
The women sitting beside her, shout, ‘Sayra tera khoon se inquilab aaya ga.’ (Sayar, your blood will lead to a revolution.)