Pulwama: “Aai Shaheedo Assalam. Ro rahi hai yeh zameen Ro Raha hai Aasmaan.” (O martyrs! Salutations! The earth is crying, the sky is crying). This farewell was given to Amir Ahmad Mir, shot in the head by government forces on Wednesday, at his native village in Ratnipora in Pulwama.
Amir Ahmad Mir was shot dead at a protest march that was held in Gango village, some five kilometres from Ratnipora, at about 12:30pm. He died on his way to hospital.
Some months ago, Amir was shot at by forces at a playground in which his friend lost his life. He survived that shootout.
On February 14 in Lelhar village, Amir had gone with his friend Danish to play cricket. Government forces had fired indiscriminately on them after an encounter in which one militant was killed and others had fled. Enraged that the militants had got away, the troops had opened fire at the boys playing cricket in the village. Amir had been hit in the abdomen by a bullet. Doctors removed his spleen to save him.
His friend Zahid Ahmad Reshi said that after his spleen was removed, Amir felt that the forces had ruined his life. “He would rage with anger when he recalled how he was shot. He would say to us that he will avenge the killing of his friend. In this uprising, he led protests. He wanted Kashmir free from India,” Zahid said.
Amir Ahmad Mir was born on February 18, 1999, in a poor family. His father, Ghulam Mohammad Mir, works as labourer. He said that he is working hard to support Amir’s education.
Amir was studying in Class 12. His teachers and friends who attended his funereal said he was a brilliant student and a good athlete. His cousin and close friend Shahid Maqbool said Amir had topped the Class 10 and 11 exams in his school. He described Amir as a “boy with valour.”
“He was a freedom fighter and supporter of Azadi,” Shahid said.
Amir was also a brilliant cricketer and also adept at throw-ball. He won many medals in different sports.
Amir had three elder sisters and one elder brother. He was the only sibling getting an education.
Aijaz Ahmad Mir, his elder brother, said, “Saima and Bisma, his sisters, worked at home, weaving and tailoring, to finance his education and to give him pocket money. They would always ask him if he needed money to buy new clothes or for pocket money.”
Aijaz himself works as a labourer and is married. One of his elder sisters is married as well.
Amir had one aim: to become a doctor. “But when people were killed and thousands injured, his aim transformed into Azadi. He would go crazy when he would hear of killings by security forces each day. He would say we are not secure in our own homes,” his friend and cousin Shahid said.
His close friend Zahid Ahmad said Amir would come to his home each day at 9am to have tea with him. Then three other friends would join them and they would talk about their aims and interests.
“He was only worried for his health. He was constantly in pain after his spleen was removed. He once said, ‘I am ruined. I cannot do anything for my poor family.’ We would console him and say, ‘We will help you achieve your dreams.’ We suggested him to study and become something,” Zahid said.
His neighbours said he was a loving boy who respected elders. Some called him a great human being.
His father said he was so dear to him that “losing him will take us years to recover”. While he said this, he burst into a loud wail. Some men came to console him and said, ‘Your son has died a martyr. You should be thankful to God. He will be remembered forever.”
On Tuesday, Amir had gone to SMHS hospital in Srinagar to see the newborn baby of his cousin and friend Shahid. “He was so happy to see me and my wife. He hugged me and said, ‘You should come home soon. I don’t feel good without you.’ He then left for his home at 7:45 pm,” Shahid said.
After reaching home late at night, he changed his clothes and went out to meet his buddy Mohammad Ashraf. “He asked me to buy chips for him. He was hungry. I told him take some juice and ice cream. We then went to find a shop. He ate ice cream. He was so happy and said, ‘I want to take selfie with you.’ We took some pictures in a happy mood and talked till late night about the uprising and the recent killings. He then left for home and said we will meet tomorrow Inshallah,” Ashraf said.
Amir was an early riser and prayed five times a day. He took breakfast at 8am on Wednesday and “left without saying where,” his father said.
Pirchoo Chalo call was given by people on Wednesday. More than ten thousand people from villages in Pulwama joined this protest call, including Amir, and his friend and neighbour, Sahil Ahmad Mir.
Sahil Ahmad Mir said at around 12:30 pm, the march was intercepted at Gagoo village by security forces. “They fired teargas canisters and chased us. Amir was leading. He was caught, but he managed to free himself. When we were falling back, security forces were hiding in rice fields. Suddenly they came out and fired live bullets and pellets at us. Amir was shot by a pellet gun first in the eye and when he fell down, he was shot by a bullet in his head,” Sahil said.
Sahil said that the police then came and started dragging him. “We managed to free him from them. There was so much chaos and so many were injured, all the cars were filled with injured. I and others shouldered his body to some 2 kilometres and finally found a car with some three injured in it. We took him to the hospital in that car.”
Fighting between life and death in Sahil’s lap in the car, Amir asked for water. When they reached Lal Chowk in Srinagar, Amir forced his tongue out three times and Sahil gave him water again.
Amir drew his last breath at Jahangir Chowk, his head falling back and his eyes closing slowly.
His corpse arrived at his home at 2 pm. Hundreds and thousands of people participated in his funeral, raising slogans, ‘We want freedom. With your blood, Amir, we will write freedom.’