Budgam: A group of women sit in mourning at the home of Wajid Ahmad, a youth who died after an explosive shell went off in Tosamaidan meadows on Sunday.
A grim silence hangs upon the sleepy Zoogu village, suddenly broken when Hajira Begum, 85, the dead boy’s grandmother, begins singing dirges for her son.
The family is in shock, wondering on how a picnic turned fatal for their son. Wajid’s mother, Sara, said that he woke up early, at dawn, on Sunday, “as he was leaving for a picnic spot where his brother Rameez Ahmad was camping already for days along with his friends.”
“He told me that it is very hectic journey, so won’t travel there by foot. ‘So I have hired a horse for one thousand rupees from a neighbor,” Sara said.
Bashir Ahmad, his father, said as the sun rays started penetrating through the windowpanes, Wajid left home.
Rameez, who was already camping at Tosamaidan meadow, told Kashmir Reader that Wajid had reached Tosamadan around 9:30 am but he had not spotted him yet.
“Everything was going on normally, a friend came and told me that my brother was roaming on horse in our search. After hearing this, I too went around looking for him,” Rameez said.
“As I reached a kilometre away from our camp, I heard a loud bang, everything shook there. I thought it might be near our camp.”
In the meantime, he said, a passerby came and said that a boy from “our camp” is lying in a pool of blood. “When I heard this I could not even move an inch,” Rameez said.
“Finally I rushed to the spot and saw that they were being carried on shoulders.”
He said, hundreds of people including students, teachers, businessmen and many others had visited the spot to spend their holidays there.
Another eyewitness, a school teacher who was there along with the school staff, told Kashmir Reader wishing not to be named, that the youth were fiddling and playing with the shell “like a ball”.
“They probably thought that it is expired and dead but when it exploded it left them helpless,” he said.
“All of a sudden, I heard a very big explosion. Everything shook. I had never heard anything that loud before.”
For a moment, he said, everyone went motionless and people raised hue and cry.
“Within minutes hundreds of people reached to the spot and removed the injured to main road and then to the hospital for treatment”. About Wajid, he said, he was almost dead there.
“We were putting water in his mouth and it was coming out of his chest. His body was torn and pierced with the splinters of the explosive shell.”
The injured were later referred to JVC Bemina for treatment from where Wajid was shifted to SKIMS soura. He breathed his last there.
Besides studying in final year at Beerwah college, Wajid ran a welding shop adjacent to his home.
He had been recruited in army in previous year but left the job after four months.
His father is a head constable posted at police control room Srinagar, and his two brothers also work in the Police.
Chairman, Tosamaidan Bachaw Front, Molvi Maqbool told Kashmir Reader that the incident has raised questions on the claims of the government about the sanitization of the meadow.
“In 2016 the meadow was thrown open for general public but this incident has created panic among the people who annually visit there and spent holidays,” Maqbool said.
Wajid’s, brother in law, Malik Farooz, said they are demanding inquiry on fast track basis into the incident and requested Governor to intervene.
“It is sheer negligence of Defence and state government that led to the tragic incident,” he said.
Meanwhile, locals demanded that there should at least be a medical aid centre in Tosamaidan for emergencies.
They said hundreds of shells were still lying in the meadow but the administration was least bothered.