Nadihal, Baramulla: On August 31, army bullets killed 18-year old Danish of Nadihal village in Baramulla district while he was out looking for his younger brother. On September 23, army bullets killed 22-year-old Waseem Nazir of the same village while he was standing in a paddy field laughing at a soldier who had tripped on his feet.
“In a few minutes he departed from this world,” said Khazir Mohammad Lone, one among the five-hundred farmers who saw the boy being shot dead. Waseem died where he fell, on Friday when a volley of bullets ripped through his shoulder and chest and pierced his heart.
Three army cars were seen coming from the Baramulla side when they halted on the road, along paddy fields where some five-hundred farmers were harvesting the crop. The driver of the car in the front stepped out and even as he took a step, fell down on the road. “We saw him falling and we laughed,” said Azad Ahmad, a farmer. Waseem had come to the field five minutes ago and was sitting on the pathway, talking to his relatives. He, too, stood up and started to laugh.
“This enraged the soldier,” said Khazir Mohammad. “He instantly turned hostile and we felt we will all be killed now.”
The soldier took a firing position. He cocked his Ak-47 rifle and aimed at farmers. He shot 10 rounds. The firing lasted for 30 seconds.
“We thought he only fired to scare us,” said Azad Ahmad. “But when we saw Waseem falling to the ground. Everyone was frightened that there may be more (killed). Waseem’s tongue was rolled out. In a few minutes he died.”
“I have never seen anything like that in the past 30 years,” said Khazir Mohammad. “We had done them (the soldiers) no harm.”
As per the locals, the same group of army soldiers was seen firing at Azad Gunj, before reaching Nadihal, in which one person was injured. After leaving from Nadihal, the soldiers crossed Achabal, firing once again at civilians there, wounding two persons.
There is a single house on the road where the army cars stopped and the soldier shot dead Waseem. The villager’s houses are in the ‘interior’, away from the main road. The family who lived in this house witnessed the killing of Waseem. They said that when they heard the shooting, they lunged to the ground. They have now left their house. They said that the army wants them to give a statement that they saw nothing.
Waseem was the second eldest among five siblings. His father, Nazir Ahmad Lone, was sent to jail in 1992 and spent many years there. He says he was left unfit to work because of the brutal torture he suffered at the hands of army soldiers and police. He showed torture marks on his feet, legs, shoulder and back. “My son took the responsibility of home at the age of twelve. He worked as a construction worker,” Nazir Ahmad said.
Waseem left his studies after Class 11 in the year 2013, His maternal uncle Mohammad Ramzan was helping the family since 1992. “He grew up without his father,” said Ramzan, weeping as he recalled how hard Waseem worked from an early age.
A year ago, Ramzan bought him a tractor and Waseem started to earn his livelihood from it.
Twenty-three days before his killing, Waseem’s eldest sister Nageena was married. Waseem had taken a hefty debt from villagers for the marriage expenses.
In 2010, police had raided the family’s house to detain his father again. Since then he was in jail, until a month ago when he was released. Waseem and his eldest sister had tried to stop police from taking their father away. The police vandalised their home and assaulted Waseem and Nageena in which she sustained major injuries in her shoulder and arm. “After so many years, she was still being treated for those injuries,” said Nazir Ahmad.
Waseem’s friends said he was living a depressing life after he saw his father being beaten by police. “This traumatised him so much that he refused to go home for many months,” said Nadeem, his maternal cousin. “He preferred to sleep in our home.”
Waseem was a well-known cricketer in Baramulla. He was the captain of the Royal Stars team. “It was always a pleasure to play alongside with him,” said Rizwan, his teammate. “More than that, he was a humorous guy who made us laugh.”
Danish, the boy who was killed by army bullets on August 31, was Waseem’s friend. Since Danish’s death, Waseem had repeatedly told his cousin Nadeem that if he gets killed, “Tell the greatest leader – Syed Ali Shah Geelani — that I have sent him my warm greetings.”