Arwini: 26-year-old Muhammad Ashraf Khar was a man left devoid of his mother’s love since he was a two-and-half-year-old baby. It was his father who had tried to fulfill this absence by showering all his love on his son. Which was why becoming a father himself was a very special moment for Ashraf.
Some 40 days ago, Ashraf had been blessed with a baby boy. The joy of becoming a father was about to get doubled last Friday as his wife, Mehvish, was returning from her mother’s home where she had gone to give birth.
Mehvish was bringing along their 40-day-old bundle of joy, Ukash Ashraf.
“He was very excited and why wouldn’t he be. His son and his wife were coming home. His son, for the first time,” an inconsolable Ghulam Hassan Khar said while speaking to Kashmir Reader.
“I had been taking care of him since he was a 2-and-half-year-old, when his mother died. We shared a very special bond,” Ghulam Hassan said amid tears.
As cruel fate would have it, Ukash’s first day at his home was the last day of his father’s.
Ahsraf was shot dead by government forces near his home in Arwani area of Kulgam district, during an encounter between government forces and militants.
Locals and eyewitnesses have called Ashraf’s killing a targeted one, but Deputy Inspector General of Police South Kashmir Range, SP Pani, said that police are investigating the killing of Ashraf and another 14-year-old boy, Ahsan Wani.
“There have been instances when militants have fired at security forces from within crowds of protesters. Similar reports have been received from yesterday’s encounter. We are investigating the case,” Pani told reporters in Anantnag.
Ghulam Hassan told Kashmir Reader that Ashraf returned home early on Friday from the ‘sabzi mandi’ in Anantnag. Ashraf ferried vegetables from the mandi to his village in his load carrier.
“He had got the vegetables loaded early on Friday and had returned home in his load carrier,” Ghulam Hassan said, adding that Ashraf left home soon after parking his load carrier outside the house, “which was a very unusual thing for him to do.”
Ashraf had told his father that he would offer Jumma prayers at the Jama Masjid located in the main market of Arwani. If some eyewitnesses are to be believed, that’s exactly where he went.
“He was performing ablution before prayers at the Vaishnav Nallah near the Masjid, when he was shot at by government forces,” an eyewitness told Kashmir Reader.
He said that Hassan was shot in his back and the bullet pierced through his body, making an exit wound at his chest near his heart.
“He was bent over the water of Vaishnav Nallah, performing ablution when they shot him,” the eyewitness said.
Friends and family of Ashraf described him as the humblest soul, who took utmost care of everybody in the family.
“He never said no to me. He was the most obedient son one can have. What am I going to do without him?” a crestfallen Ghulam kept asking people around him.