Anantnag: Tahira Begum was fasting for the fifth day of Shawwal when she ventured out during a Cordon and Search Operation (CASO) to bring her 17-year-old son back home. The CASO, which later turned into an encounter between Lashkar militants and government troops, was launched at about 5:30 Saturday morning in Breenthi area of Dialgam. The 38-year-old Tahira Begum was brought dead to Anantnag district hospital, a bullet wound in her heart, a few hours later.
“She had been shot in the back and the bullet had pierced through to her heart, killing her instantly,” a doctor at the hospital told Kashmir Reader.
Police said that Tahira had been killed in crossfire. “Yes, two civilians were killed during the encounter in cross-firing,” Director General of Police (DGP) Shesh Paul Vaid told Kashmir Reader.
Eyewitnesses and locals contradicted the police version, saying that Tahira had been “murdered” by government forces. “Soon after the CASO was launched, many people in the locality came out in protest and clashed with the government forces,” a local source told Kashmir Reader. Among these people was Tahira Begum, he said, whose 17-year-old mentally unstable son had ventured out after hearing the noise outside.
“Looking for her son she reached a spot where youth had assembled and were confronting the government forces,” eyewitnesses said. They said that not a single shot had been fired till then, either by the militants or by the government forces.
“All of a sudden, the forces trained their guns at the people assembled there and the people started to run for their lives. The forces then opened fire,” a local said.
The firing left Tahira dead and at least 4 other persons with bullet wounds. One of them succumbed to his wounds while he was being taken to SKIMS hospital in Srinagar.
Tahira’s funeral was held near her home in Breenthi, where hundreds of people assembled, shouting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans. She was laid to rest at her ancestral graveyard in the village.
Tahira is survived by her three children, including a girl, and her husband. Her husband Ghulam Rasool Chopan is a gardener who works for the state government’s floriculture department. He was too shocked to say anything.
Neighbours said that Tahira was the most pious lady in the neighbourhood. “What more is proof than that she was fasting for the fifth day even after Ramzan being over,” said Mushatq Ahmad, a neighbour.
Others said that Tahira had dedicated her life to her family, particularly her children. “How heartbreaking it is that she died saving one of her children. May her soul rest in peace,” her neighbours said.
Had Tahira lived, she would have celebrated ‘Eid’ on Monday after fasting for six days.