Kakapora: A joint funeral was held for Majid Mir and Shakir Gasjoo in their native village, Kakapora, on Thursday. Both of them were killed by government forces in a gunfight that took place midway between their houses. The bodies of both were charred beyond recognition.
Majid and Shakir had one more thing in common. None of them should have been at the encounter site on Wednesday evening, fighting government forces.
Both were supposed to be in Chandigarh at this time, Majid pursuing his engineering degree and Shakir his bachelor’s in business administration.
After Majid scored 75 percent in his Class 12 examination, his family was keen to send him to Chandigarh for a BTech degree.
“And that’s exactly what we did. We secured his admission at a Chandigarh college,” Majid’s brother, Imtiyaz Mir, told Kashmir Reader.
Majid, however, after spending some weeks in Chandigarh, came back home and insisted that he would stay in Kashmir.
The disappointed family got him admitted at KITE College of Polytechnic in Srinagar for a diploma course in mechanical engineering.
“He was in the second semester in June last year when he vanished from his Srinagar residence,” said Imtiyaz.
The family, after trying hard to trace him, came across his pictures on social media in which he was wearing army fatigues and carrying a gun.
For his family, it was baffling. They described Majid as a fashion buff, an avid cricketer, and the most social member of the family.
Moreover, the family said, he had a lavish, comfortable lifestyle.
Majid’s father is a retired employee of the Government Joinery Mill. His elder brother works in the government and two elder brothers run their own successful eatery and a poultry farm in main town Pulwama.
“Besides, we have orchards and paddy land. He had everything at his disposal. Why he chose to pick up arms remains a mystery for all of us,” said Sameer, Majid’s another elder brother.
The brothers recall fondly how their brother followed every fashion trend and was famous in the village for his bowling skills on the cricket field.
A few hundred meters from the beautiful house of the Mirs, lives the Gasjoo family in their two-room house. A family of meat traders, the Gasjoo family is not as well to do as the Mirs but Bashir Ahmad Gasjoo made sure his son had the best of education.
Shakir’s cousin, Adil Sofi, told Kashmir Reader, “He was studying at the government degree college here but uncle (Bashir Ahmad) was not satisfied. He wanted him to pursue a degree in business administration.”
The Gasjoos selected a college in Chandigarh and completed the admission formalities for Shakir. He was supposed to leave for Chandigarh on April 25 this year.
On April 18, as per the family, Shakir was tending to his father’s meat shop near his home when police’s special operations group (SOG) came looking for him.
“They wanted him in connection with some case, of which we never came to know the details,” Shakir’s father, Bashir Ahmad, told Kashmir Reader.
He recalled how Shakir came home running from the front door and dashed out from the rear door of the house, never to return.
“We kept looking for him but couldn’t trace him. Later the family was told by the police that Shakir might have joined militants,” Sofi said.
The family had not met or spoken to Shakir since he left. They were in for a horrible shock Thursday morning when they were told his body had been recovered from the encounter site.
“He did not even call us one last time. We knew there was an encounter but had no idea that Shakir was trapped in there,” a crestfallen Bashir told Kashmir Reader.
“I could have never thought he would pick up arms. He did not have any traits, whatsoever,” Shakir’s friend Ishfaq told this reporter.
As the Gasjoo family mourned, intense clashes were taking place outside their house. Teargas shells fired by government troops had left everybody inside the house teary eyed, as if they had not wept enough.