Arihal (Pulwama): Shahid Ashraf Dar, 28, who was killed during protests near the Drubgam encounter site in Pulwama on Monday, was famous as a brilliant cricketer who led his team to victories in several tournaments. Thousands of people attended his funeral and raised pro-freedom, anti-India and pro-militant slogans, while his mother kept on wailing. Eyewitnesses said that thousands of mourners squeezed into the courtyard of the Jamia Masjid at Arihal village of Pulwama where the funeral prayers were offered. The rush of people was such that the body had to be taken to the roof of the mosque.
Emotional scenes were witnessed and about a dozen persons, including women, fainted when Shahid’s body was taken away from the mosque for burial. Several pro-freedom leaders and religious figures addressed the huge gathering in the village. Shahid was buried at about 6pm, after five rounds of funeral prayers were offered for him.
Shahid, according to close relatives, left home in the morning after telling his parents that he had to go to Pulwama for some work. “Several boys from the village went to Drubgam but Shahid came back as a martyr,” Bashir Ahmad, a resident of Arihal, said.
Maternal uncle of Shahid, Muzaffar Ahmad Bhat, told Kashmir Reader that Shahid was the brother of two elder, unmarried sisters. He said that Shahid’s mother was killed by unknown gunmen some 13 years ago. He said that Shahid’s mother used to work in the “police department”.
“His father, Muhammad Ashraf, is a driver by profession and has been hired by a villager to drive his vehicle,” Bhat said. “Shahid left studies after completing Class 12 and was now helping his father shoulder the responsibilities of the family.”
He added that Shahid was the lone support for his two sisters and his elderly father and stepmother.
A neighbour said that Shahid was arrested by police last winter and was in detention for about a month. He said that Shahid had been arrested by police a dozen times since the killing of Burhan Wani in July 2016.
People who claimed to have witnessed Shahid’s killing at Drubgam said that government forces shot him thrice, and he had three bullet marks on his abdomen.
Residents of Arihal said that after ten years a martyr was being buried in the “martyrs’ graveyard” of their village. They said that ten years ago a rebel from the village, Sheeraz Ahmad Mir, was killed in an encounter.
“Before Shahid, the bodies of seven militants, including a Pakistani militant, were buried in our local martyrs’ graveyard,” a villager said.