CHECKI CHOLAND (SHOPIAN): Asadullah Ganai has been battling stomach cancer since 2013. When I visited him, on Sunday afternoon, he was reclining on a mattress in a sunlit room, like a typical cancer patient, aware of the imminent end.
During the past three years of dispiriting treatments, he seems to have resigned to his fate.
However, a smirk, which appears to be mocking the killers of his 19-year-old son, appears on his face when he says,
“Yemav zaelmav yus mae nachuv shaheed kor su ous myon kamber, yemi garukh cherag. Mea chha pai taemsund shaheed gacchun koota krooth peyi mea. Mager khudayan oas tamis yi lekhmut, ba chus aathmanz ti khus. (My son whom these tyrants have martyred was my backbone and he was the light of this home. I know his martyrdom would be too much for me but since Allah had willed this I am happy for him),” Asad said.
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“Menis nachiv sinz shahadat chha aezaz mae khatree, ba kyazi gachhne khosh (My son’s martyrdom is an honour for me why should I not be glad about it),” Asadullah said.
Shahid was shot dead by government forces on July 9 outside police station at Behi Bagh. A big pro-Burhan march, in which protesters from about a dozen neighbouring villages were participating, had thrown stones at the solid, concrete building. The police had fired into the march. A single bullet that hit Shahid in the face killed him on the spot.
Shahid was the sixth child of Asadullah’s eight children. Asad has married off his eldest son and three daughters. His youngest son is a student and the unmarried daughter handles daily chores because his wife had died 10 years ago.
“My monthly medical expenses cost a lot. That is why Shahid used to work as a painter. His other brother looks after orchards,” Asadullah said.
To earn more, Shahid often took contract assignments and worked overtime. That is why he used to stay away from home for days together and return home once a week. He was scheduled to start work on a new assignment on July 10.
Before his martyrdom, Shahid had been to Tral to offer funeral prayer to Hizb commander Burhan. On his return, in the evening, Shahid first had his meal and then performed ablution for Asr prayers.
Before he left, he asked his sister to prepare tea for him.
“After he offered the prayer, a word about the protest taking place at Behi-bagh police station had spread in the village. My son joined the protest and was martyred,” Asadullah said.
Jahangir Ahmad, who participated in the protest, recollects that the government forces, CRPF and police, fired indiscriminately into the protest march.
About 20 metres away from the spot where Shahid was killed, I counted four bullet marks on shutters of four shops in a row.
Shahid was laid to rest in the local graveyard that has 14 militants, eight of them locals, buried in it.
About a dozen youths who accompanied this reporter to Shahid’s home sat around Asadullah and occasionally supplied bits and pieces of information about the martyr’s life.
“He was a modest boy without any desire for material things. He was deeply pro-freedom,” said one.
“He was sociable and humble. If ever he got into trouble with others, he strived to resolve issues with maturity,” said another.
Asadullah joins the chorus: “He never gave me any trouble the way children of his age do. He left studies so that he could earn and I would survive. Allah will reward him for that.”