Gohnoo: After passing out engineering in 2016, and remaining idle for a year or so, Syed Owais Shafi had promised two of his village friends that they will set up a coaching centre together and teach the local kids.
The trio, in November last year, had rented a place and were all set to start their ‘winter tutorials’ before Owais went missing, one cold November day, never to be heard from again.
The only news–after the one that he joined militants–that came of Owais was of his killing in the wee hours of Monday morning.
He was killed in an encounter today in Hakoora area of Anantnag district, along with two others.
As the whole village mourned, so did his friends, away from the public gaze, not to be traced by anyone.
The youngest son of Muhammad Shafi Shah, a retired headmaster in Gohnoo village of Vailoo here in Kokernag, Owais, completed his B.Tech in ‘Electronics and Communications’ from Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University (BGSBU) in Rajouri district of Chenab valley region.
“During the year he stayed back home, he talked sometimes of pursuing an M.Tech and at other times said he will look for a job,” one of Owais’s family members told Kashmir Reader.
He said that Owais never gave any inkling to make us suspect his intentions.
“Finally he settled the questions regarding his future when he announced that he and two of his friends wanted to set up a coaching centre, here in the village. We were happy that he will be finally engaged in something,” the family member said.
As per the family Owais left home on November 23 on the pretext of visiting the local Tehsil office to get some documents, including the “educationally backward area” certificate.
But he never returned home after that.
His father and brothers-one of them an officer in the government’s planning department-started a hunt to track him down, but to no avail.
“We never heard from him after that. Never,” the family member said.
He said that the only information they got was from the police’s Cargo division in Srinagar.
“They told us he has joined some Eisa-who, we later came to know, was Owais’s junior at the university,” he said.
Eisa was also killed with Owais in the Hakoora encounter.
The family was devastated with the news and left no stone unturned to trace Owais.
“But it was not to be,” the family said.
Owais’s friends, with whom he was about to start the coaching centre, were left equally shocked and devastated.
“They too had no inkling like us. They were equally shocked because he participated enthusiastically in setting up of the coaching centre,” the family member told Kashmir Reader.
The family member tried to trace the duo in the mayhem that was, in Gahnoo village but could not.
“Their numbers are switched off as well. I would have made you talk to them at least,” he said, “They must be in mourning like the rest of us,”
Others in the area Kashmir Reader talked to described him as an intelligent, down to earth and religious boy.
“He was a shy, well behaved boy. His decision to join militants remains a mystery for all of us,” a neighbor of the family told Kashmir Reader.
Owais is survived by his parents, two brothers and five sisters.