Sopore: It was supposed to be a festive homecoming for Ghulam Hassan Chopan to celebrate Eid with his wife, three sons, and elderly parents. Instead, his body arrived in a bag at his home in Wolhutra village, near Sopore but in Rafiabad area of Baramulla district.
A pall of gloom descended upon the entire village as thousands of mourners – men, women and children – gathered despite the hot weather and the day-long fast of Ramazan for the funeral. Ghulam, 45, was killed along with a fellow policeman by militants at the Pulwama district court complex on the eve of Shab-e-Qadr, the holiest night in the Islamic calendar.
“He was coming home to his children, wife and his old-age parents on Eid. They are really humble, simple people. Now this tragedy has befallen the poor family. We are numb with grief. I don’t know what to say,” said Abdul Gaffar, a Rafiabad resident.
Each eye was wet at the funeral as neighbours were seen consoling the children of the slain policeman.
“When the news of his killing reached his village early in the morning, thousands of people from his own village and the villages nearby came to his home. Almost everyone knows him here as he used to lead the Friday prayers whenever he would visit his home. He was a pious and religious person,” Gaffar said.
Among Ghulam’s three sons, the eldest is Sajad. He has recently finished his graduation and is planning to study for a master’s degree. He said, “My father never hurt anybody in his life. He had come home a week ago. We were expecting him to come on Arfa (a day before Eid) to celebrate with us. He had told us he would be coming and we were eagerly waiting. Today we received his dead body. Whether it is because of India or Pakistan, it is we Kashmiris who are getting killed. When will this bloodshed end?”
His other two sons, Tawseef and Hilal, study in Class 12 and Class 8, respectively.
Ghulam’s name on official documents is Ghulam Hassan Wagay. He was in police service for about 20 years. According to his family, he joined police service in 1998.
“He called me last night, asked me what I had cooked for dinner, as it was the eve of Shab-e-Qadr. He told me he will come home on Arfa,” said Misra Begum, his wife, crying and shouting her husband’s name while other women tried to console her.
The slain policeman’s younger brother and father both suffer from paralysis. He was the sole breadwinner and the only hope of a good future for the family.