Sopore: A tailor from Sopore relives the memories of his son by organising football matches. A football lover himself, this man lost his son when the latter was on his way to a playground. However, the never-ending agony of failing to get the killers punished haunts him all the time.
Seven years after his son, Khalid Sharif, drowned in the Jhelum in Sopore, Sharif-uf-Din, a tailor from the apple town, still has some hopes for justice. Eleven year old Khalid fell in the river while allegedly being chased by the CRPF. Till date, no case has been registered against the accused.
Says Sharif, a resident of Bhagat, Sopore, “I have been fighting to get an FIR registered against CRPF for all these years. I am a poor man and loved my son very much. I want his killers to be punished. It is ironical that they (police) haven’t registered an FIR till date.”
It was at around 3:30 pm on June 30, 2009, when Khalid left home to play cricket with his friends in a playground across the Jhelum. “I still remember when he left with a cricket bat in his hand. If I had an idea of what was going to happen, I would have never allowed him to go,” the tearful father recounts. Hours later, when Mir was coming out of a local mosque, he came to know that some boys had jumped into Jhelum when they were being chased by CRPF men. Little did he know that one of the boys was his son.
“When Khalid didn’t return home, I went out to look for him. The boys who had jumped into the river spotted me and broke the devastating news: My son too had jumped in the river when chased by the CRPF. While others managed to swim to safety, Khalid got carried away in the current and drowned,” says Mir.
According to Khalid’s friends, who were witness to the incident, the CRPF chased the group and blocked the bridge from both sides. Says Mir: “The boys felt trapped. They were kids after all and jumped into the river. Khalid didn’t jump as he did not know swimming. One CRPF jawan started beating him. Khalid, who was already on the edge of the grill, fell into the river.”
The search for his body went on for three days. “Three days later, we were able to fish out his body from Baramulla. There were injury marks on his hands and head. He had lost his grip on the grill because CRPF jawan/s beat him mercilessly. Khalid was only 11. How could he be a threat to the ‘world’s largest democracy’?”
Following the incident, the-then DC Baramulla and other government officials assured the family that strict action would be taken against the forces involved in the incident. “They told me that they will do everything possible. I was in a shock for a month and could not follow the case. Later, I came to know that they had not even filed an FIR. When I tried to file one, the police refused. I was told that it was too late for an FIR. They lied to us so that we do not raise any hue and cry,” a dejected Mir added.
Mir was unable to continue his visits to the police station as he was forced to work to keep the house running. “I wanted to keep his name alive. Since I can’t fight them, my wife and I decided to sell whatever little jewellery we had and organised a football tournament in Khalid’s name. I used to play football myself and my son loved sports. I thought it would be my small tribute to him,” Sharif says.
He says he tries to ‘get a glimpse of his son’ among the children busy playing football in the local playground.