SRINAGAR: “Had it been an accident, my brother may have got a single bullet. But he had received four bullets, which makes it abundantly clear that they fired to kill him,” says Farooq Ahmad Bhat, brother of Bashir Ahmad Bhat who was killed in CRPF firing at Nawa Kadal in downtown Srinagar on Wednesday last.
Bashir, 24, was killed barely an hour after polling for Srinagar parliamentary constituency had concluded.
On the fateful day, the young pashmina trader had been, according to his family, mending the veranda of their modest house at Gratebal, Nawa Kadal. Unmindful of the polling that was going on extremely slowly in the old city, he kept himself busy with the task, which was a part of the preparations for the wedding of his two sisters. And after the day’s labour, Bashir went to take a walk that proved to be his last.
“He wasn’t part of any protest or stone pelting. He had never ever been a stone pelter,” Farooq told Kashmir Reader on Sunday. “And on Wednesday too, he was just busy preparing for our sisters’ upcoming wedding.
“After working all day, he took a bath, donned new clothes, and went to wish our young cousin on her birthday. He returned soon and, after a while, went to take a walk to get rid of his tiredness. We were all sitting home and waiting for his return, but all we got was a phone call informing us that Bashir had dropped dead.”
Bashir received four bullets—two in his thighs and two in abdomen. After being shot, a wounded Bashir was left unattended on the road as police and paramilitary CRPF didn’t allow anyone go closer to the spot, said Farooq.
“After about 20 minutes when they (forces) withdrew, some youths were able to shift my brother to the hospital. But he had already died. He was declared brought dead at the hospital,” Farooq said, adding that their family was virtually locked inside the house on the following days.
“At first, we didn’t know that Bashir was shot. I received a call from our neighbour informing me about the incident. When I reached the hospital, I found Bashir dead in the operation theatre,” Farooq said.
“But they didn’t stop at the killing of my brother. We were not able to offer his ‘jinazah’ (funeral prayers) as they fired tear smoke shells at the mourners.
“The next morning, a large contingent of CRPF was deployed at our gate. We were not allowed to move out of our house, nor was anyone allowed to visit us for condolences. We weren’t even allowed to place epitaph at my brother’s grave. Is this what they call democracy?”
Bashir had left schooling after studying till Class 8 and started working as a tailor and subsequently turned to pashmina trade. Of late, however, he had dedicated his attention to his sisters’ wedding, which was scheduled to take place on May 25.
“Only few days before he died, Bashir told me that he wanted to get the house painted before wedding. Today, he was to paint this room, and now we are sitting here to mourn his death,” Bashir’s father Mohammad Shafi Bhat said in a broken voice. “They left us devastated.”
The tragedy-torn family has cancelled the wedding. Not in a position to talk to anyone, the mother, and two sisters of Bashir spend most of the time in a room wailing.
“I swear by Allah and his Prophet (pbuh) that my son wasn’t a militant. I swear by Allah and the Prophet (pbuh) that my son wasn’t a stone pelter. Yet they killed him,” said Bashir’s mother Rafiqa.