Chitragam (Shopian): Gulzar Ahmad Bhat is waiting for the day when compensation for those killed in the recent protests will be announced by the government. Not because he is eager to claim it for his 15-year-old son Asif Iqbal, killed by the police in Zainpora recently, but because he wants to make a counteroffer: whatever price Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti will set on her life, he will pay it to her.
“I earn my living through farming but let the CM set a price on her life and I will pay her,” Bhat said, furious with grief.
“Why did they kill my immature son so gruesomely? The police could have shot him in his leg to immobilise him, but they chose to kill him,” he lamented.
“I do not even have a picture to show you how young he was,” the bereaved father said.
Everything is lost for his family, Bhat said. He had even lost trail of the belongings of Asif that his neighbours hurriedly packed to create space for the mourners that poured in from all nearby villages.
Bhat said that blood money cannot bring back loved ones. The government must stop killing innocents, there was no greater relief it could offer to people.
Bhat, who has studied till Class 9, recounted the day when his son was killed as one of “youth galvanised by the wave of protests in the area.” On Sunday afternoon, July 10, the local youth walked a few kilometers to protest outside the Central Reserve Police Force camp at Zainpora. Bhat’s son was among them. He was shot dead from close range.
The body of Aqib was rushed to the Zainpora sub-district hospital, where he was declared brought dead.
A green flag is now placed at his grave. Locals say that they are privileged to have a martyr in their graveyard. They said that they are grateful to his father for acceding to their demand to let them bury Aqib in their graveyard.
Bhat said that the area has a separate graveyard for martyrs, but many locals and relatives pleaded that Aqib be buried at their family graveyard where no martyr had until then been buried.
The separate graveyard for martyrs did not have to wait long. On Friday, July 15, the body of 17-year-old Sayar Ahmad Kumar, a nearby villager, arrived. Sayar had fallen to bullets during protests at Yaripora in Kulgam.
Sayar was learning pottery, the family profession. His father leads the prayers at the local Jamia Masjid. He said that no politician or their local MLA cared to offer even a word of condolence to the victim families.
Sayar’s family members said that he had attended the funeral for Burhan on Saturday, along with many who went from Chitragam village to Tral.
“The day he was killed, he had gone to his maternal uncle. We later came to know that he was shot in the chest during a clash with government forces at Yaripora,” Sayar’s father said.
According to locals, Sayar was leading a protest towards the CRPF camp at Yaripora and received two bullets on his chest. Rushed to the nearby hospital, he was pronounced ‘brought dead’ by doctors there.
He now lies buried in the martyrs’ graveyard along with five other militants, one of whom was from Pakistan.