Srinagar: Some 25 kilometres north of Srinagar city, 20-year-old Umar Farooq was shot dead by soldiers of Border Security Force (BSF) in Baroosa hamlet of central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district on Sunday. The soldiers claimed that Umar was pelting their vehicle with stones on Sunday evening.
Pointing towards a local martyrs’ graveyard, Asif Bashir, a cousin of Umar, said that Umar was the seventh person buried in the graveyard since 1998, when a militant was buried here.
“He (Umar) is the third civilian buried here, besides four other militants killed during the nineties and buried here,” said Bashir, who is a driver and with whom Umar used to travel on work.
Umar, a Class 12 student and the lone brother of six cousin sisters, was also driving a dipper carrying construction material for the Central University being built in nearby Tulmulla locality.
“He wanted to carry on with studies but the bleak financial conditions of his family compelled him to choose driving as a means to support his family of five. The family had sold their few acres of land to buy a dipper for Umar,” said his uncle, Ashiq Ahmad.
Farooq Ahmad, a disabled man and the father of Umar, has not been earning as he cannot stand long on his feet and faces difficulty in walking.
“I should have fed him and provided him with the best education, but he had become the lone source of income for us,” said the shattered father.
Two sisters of Umar had gone to a nearby area to collect vegetables from the local wetland that is called as Hand. They hadn’t returned home by late evening. The worried father sent Umar to go look for them.
A childhood friend of Umar, Aqib Mushtaq, said that after the polls for Srinagar parliamentary seat were boycotted by Baroosa villagers, the BSF soldiers resorted to vengeance. “A cricket match was being played in front of a school that acted as a polling booth in our village. Suddenly we heard some gunshots and that scared all of us,” said Mushtaq, who rushed to the spot where Umar was shot dead by BSF soldiers.
Aqib said that he saw Umar lying with bullet injuries and gasping for breath. He said that the soldiers had left towards Badampora, their base camp in Manasbal.
“We were around a dozen or more youths sitting near the highway at about 7pm. In the meantime, two BSF vehicles passed through the highway. They stopped about 30 metres away from us, apparently from fear that we might throw stones at them,” said local witnesses.
“When the forces’ vehicles approached us, we were scared and all of us stood up. The soldiers came down from their vehicles and started firing on us. One bullet pierced the abdomen of Umar,” the local witnesses said.
Umar was taken to district hospital Ganderbal from where he was taken to Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences in Soura. After ten minutes of his admission, Umar was declared dead by doctors.
Remembering Umar as a hardworking and joyful boy who used to make everyone laugh, his friends and co-workers said that his killing would haunt them for years to come.
A police official at police station Tulmulla said that a general case had been registered at the station and an investigation is being carried out to ascertain the facts.