Hajin: His white shalwar-kameez stained with the blood of his wife, Abdul Majeed wailed like women do as he embraced her corpse, crying out her name – Shakeela – while men surrounded him in his house on Monday morning.
“For whom have you left me here? I am so, so alone now,” he sang dirges, some of the verses inaudible. Some men tried to console him by giving him water. That was all they could do.
Shakeela, 40, was killed while trying to save her husband from masked men who posed as militants to steal cash and gold from their home. Her two daughters, aged 8 and 18, and son Dawood, 12, chased the robbers when they were making their escape but could not stop them.
Abdul Majeed Gufur, 50, is a well-settled man living in the small village of Shahgund, some six kilometres from Hajin town in Bandipora district. He is a political worker of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and a businessman dealing in Qaleen carpets, which provide livelihood to at least a dozen youth employed in his unit.
On Sunday night at 9:30pm, Abdul went out as usual for a stroll outside his house. He returned after a while and went into the washroom to perform ablutions before offering the Asr prayers.
“As I went to my room and spread the prayer mat, a masked man who had already entered the room came from behind and put his pistol on me. He asked me why I am associated with politics, to which I replied that it is for the sake of people’s benefit,” Abdul told Kashmir Reader.
Abdul said that he was unaware that the gunman was inside and had already terrified his son Dawood and daughters Nighat, 8 and Ishrat, 18. His 20-year-old son Ishfaq wasn’t at home.
The masked man accused Abdul of storing arms in his locker. “He said that I have kept weapons in the locker of my room upstairs. He demanded the keys to it. After I gave him the keys, he opened the locker and pulled out three-lakh rupees in cash and gold belonging to my daughters and wife,” Abdul said.
“I saw the man getting away with the gold and cash. I realised he was a bandit and not a militant. I argued with him and it resulted in a scuffle. I caught hold of him but he took out a knife and stabbed my wife in the neck after she tried to come to my rescue. Then he fled,” Abdul narrated.
The children ran after the man but were thwarted. “The son, Dawood, received a blow in his abdomen near the gate, but while hitting him, some 83-thousand rupees fell from the man’s grasp. Then he fled with his two accomplices who were waiting outside on a bike,” a neighbour said.
The neighbour said that from the evening itself, three bike-borne masked men were roaming around the Baghat Mohalla locality of Shagund village. It has five to eight houses situated meters away from one another amid dense apple orchards. The masked men, he said, were forcing whosoever was in the street to go inside home. A resident of the locality said that the men even beat up a few youths.
With a series of abductions and killings carried out by masked men in Hajin area in recent weeks, the appearance of the masked men in Baghat Mohalla seemed normal to the people. “Within half an hour, the terrible news came that Abdul’s house had been targeted this time. He was a political worker, so initially it was thought that militants had come after Abdul,” a neighbour who lives meters away from his house shared.
Relatives of the family said that one gunman had already sneaked into Abdul’s house and had been asking the children to reveal details of cash and gold in the house. A police officer also said that the masked man first sat with the family and then demanded to search the house. He said that when a scuffle began, Shakeela sustained critical knife injuries. She was rushed to the local Community Health Centre from where she was referred to Jehlum Valley College Hospital in Srinagar. Shakeela couldn’t survive due to excessive blood loss, according to doctors.
Shakeela’s maternal home was in Sopore. People in Baghat Mohalla described her as having a pious and caring nature. Thousands of people took part in her funeral prayers.
The Senior Superintendent of Police Bandipora said that it was a normal crime and that cash and gold had been stolen from the family. He also said that the preliminary investigation reveals no militant link to the incident, as no gun or pistol was used.
The investigation of the case has been taken up in an FIR 41/2018 under Sections 307,392,452 RPC and 7/23 I/A Act at police station Hajin, he said.
Since April this year, this is the 7th killing in Hajin area by “unknown masked” men. Most of these killings have been blamed by police on a group of Lashkar militants, but the Lashkar has denied the allegations. The unsolved cases have spread fear in Hajin and this new killing will only add to it.