Aripanthan: A pall of gloom has again descended on Aripanthan village of central district Budgam as the villagers recalled the mayhem caused by the indiscriminate firing by the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force troopers exactly a year ago. On August 15, some protesting villagers blocked the road that hampered a local middle-rung officer’s journey to a venue to hoist the Indian national flag. The next day, troopers descended on the village to carry out a massacre of sorts, without any major provocation. Four villagers were mercilessly killed and several others wounded at a time when the entire Kashmir valley was going through carnage started by the government forces to quell a public uprising triggered by the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen leader Burhan Wani on July 8, 2016.
The families of the slain men are still shattered. They say they will never recover from the loss of their precious lives.
“How can we forget the sight of the blood of our beloved ones flowing like a stream on the bare road and the brain of a youngster splattering out of his pierced skull,” said Hafeeza, sister of slain youngster Javid Ahmad Najar. Melancholy is writ large at Mohammad Ashraf Wani’s home who was another victim of indiscriminate firing. “Our son should have remembered us after our demise but the irony is that we are remembering him on his anniversary,” Wani’s mother told Kashmir Reader as tears rolled down her face.
She immediately regained her composure. “This is the first time I broken down after his martyrdom. Maybe I am getting old and weak or maybe it is the love of the slain kids that have moved me to tears,” she said with a trembling voice.
“Please forgive me for breaking down,” she suddenly turned apologetic and then explained. “If the youngsters have the courage to sacrifice their lives, we the elderly must also exhibit courage and resilience,” she said.
The scene was no different at Manzoor Ahmad Lone’s modest home where his widow, two children and ailing parents live in despondency.
“The wounds may heal but the pain will remain for a longer time,” Lone’s father said. “These are strange times. The sons would shoulder the funerals of their parents but alas the parents shoulder the funerals of their sons now,” he said.
At Javid Ahmad Najar’s home, a handful of youngsters were making preparations for a prayer ceremony in the memory of the slain youngsters. “We can only pray for the departed souls and wish that their sacrifices would not go in vain,” a youngster said.
Najar’s younger sister Hafeeza Akther said the void created by the martyrdom of her brother would never be filled.
“He was so passionate and sober that he never spoke loudly to anyone,” she said. “He was dedicated and passionate to his profession.” And, Javed Ahmad Sheikh’s family lives in desolation and misery. Sheikh was a barber and would work hard to meet the two ends. “We are living a terrible life ever since,” a relative said. The locals in the area have organised a rally on the first anniversary of the mayhem.
The people complained that the state government completely failed them and reneged on the promise of providing government jobs to the next of kin of the deceased youngsters. The family of Javid Ahmad Najar’s family claimed that even the customary ex-gratia relief was not provided to them despite the local authorities were approached.