Kudwani: Government forces did not allow anyone to pick bullet-hit Sharjeel Ahmad Sheikh for an hour on Wednesday, eyewitnesses in Khudwani said.
Sheikh was among four civilians killed during a 16-hour-long gunfight wherein militants escaped alive here in Khudwani.
“We won’t give a damn even if all of you die,” were the words government forces uttered in disgust at people-including women-who tried to save the bleeding 30-year-old man, an eyewitness said.
The eyewitnesses recounted the gory details of how he was denied medical aid for well over an hour while warning bullets were fired in the direction of anyone who tried to venture near him.
Police maintained that the civilians were killed in cross fire.
A driver by profession, Sheikh was staying overnight at a friend’s place when the encounter between government forces and the militants broke out in the vicinity.
“He talked to his father over phone less than an hour before he was shot at,” Sheikh’s maternal cousin told Kashmir Reader today. “His father advised him not to venture outside,” But then, as fate had it, Sheikh did venture out to use the washroom in the courtyard of his friend’s house at about 7:30am Wednesday morning.
“Soon as he went out he was shot at by the government forces,” an eyewitness of the killing told Kashmir Reader. Another eyewitness Haleema, an elderly woman, said that she, her grand children and some other people, tried to run towards Sheikh, who lay bleeding profusely as he was shot in his abdomen, but were warned by the forces to stay wherever they were.
“We have lost three of our men and we won’t give a damn if all of you die,” Haleema said, quoting the forces personnel, who prevented them from picking up Sheikh.
She recounted that the forces personnel fired several shots to scare off people who made a move to pick up Sheikh. “They fired and the young ones trying to rescue him had to lay on all fours to keep themselves from getting shot at,” said Haleema.
Sheikh was finally picked up after an hour of pleading with the forces but only a driver and a woman were allowed to accompany him to the hospital where he was declared brought dead.
Sheikh’s family laments that he might have been saved had the forces allowed the people to pick him up and take him to the hospital straightaway.
“One hour is a lot of time when you are wounded by a bullet in your abdomen,” Sheikh’s brother-in-law told Kashmir Reader.
Sheikh was about to get married to his fiancée Mahjabeen in some days. The only source of income in a family of four-including his old age parents and a younger brother-Sheikh drove a rented tipper around to make a living.
“He was now steadily taking the family out of poverty. He was carrying out some renovation in his otherwise dilapidated house, for his marriage was near. But it was not to be,” the cousins lament.