Clashes in Soibug after funeral
BUDGAM: Massive clashes erupted between government forces and locals in Soibug area of Budgam on Monday, after funeral prayers were held for Syed Habibullah, a Soibug resident who was shot dead by government forces on Sunday night at the Air Force station in Budgam.
The initial statement from the police said government forces had shot dead a man, believed to be mentally unsound, after he tried to enter the high-security Air Force station. The man was subsequently identified as Syed Habibullah.
The police spokesman said that the man crossed the security fence at about 12.05 Sunday midnight, and came near the station perimeter wall. “Despite repeated warnings from the sentry, the individual did not stop. The sentry fired some warning shots in the air, but the individual did not stop. The sentry (then) fired towards him,” the police spokesman said.
He said that the Air Force station authorities then informed the nearby Humhama police post, and police officers rushed to the scene. “Spot examination revealed that the individual of about 50-55 years of age, who appeared to be mentally challenged, has died in the incident,” the spokesman said.
The deceased person was not wearing footwear, was without winter clothing and had no identity card, he said. “Pertinently, there is no habitation near the place of incident.” He said the police had taken the body into custody and was in the process of ascertaining the man’s identity.
On Monday, when the deceased person was identified as Soibug resident Syed Habibullah, all the town’s shutters were downed and schools and business establishments were shut throughout the day.
People were seen moving in groups and visiting Habibullah’s home to console his grief-stricken family.
Talking to his relatives and neighbours at his home in Soibug, it emerged that Habibullah had left home on Sunday night. “He was at home and left home yesterday night,” the deceased’s relative, Syed Abul Aala, said. “He used to roam from one place to another, not because he was mentally challenged but because he was distressed with his extreme penury.”
Aala added that the deceased was living a life of extreme poverty and was not able to feed his family or meet any of their needs.
Huddled in a makeshift tin shed at their residence at Soibug, the family is being visited by many people from different villages.
“The deceased’s family is living in a makeshift tin shed. He was a poor man and used to roam from one place to another place in search of food and money,” Aala said.
He added that Habibullah also used to beg from local people for food for his family. “He is survived by five sons, a daughter and his aged wife,” added another local, Shabir Ahmad Dar.
Thousands of people participated in the last rites of the deceased at Soibug, his native village, where he was buried amid pro-freedom slogans.
“Soon after he was buried, youths hurled stones at the army camp at Daharmuna, and clashes broke out,” a local said.
Clashes were still going on when this report was filed.