(ZANDPAL) TANGMARAG: A week after 39- year-old forest guard Tariq Ahmad Malik was killed by unknown gunmen at his home in Zandpal village, of Tangmarag, the picturesque village nestled among dense alpine forests is yet to come out of the shock and mourning.
Tariq’s family is still receiving a stream of visitors, who come by to mourn and offer condolences.
On 23rd August, the family said, Tariq had been out on a picnic to Doodpathri with villagers and relatives. On return, as his daughters started asking queries about the day, he asked them to wait till he finishes his prayers.
“I and my wife were present in the kitchen where he began to offer prayers,” said Wasim Mushtaq Malik, a relative, who had ferried Tariq and the villagers to picnic in his vehicle.
“Moments after he started his prayers, a gunman suddenly pointed a gun barrel through the window,” he said. “The gunmen fired several shots on him. During that time I only remember that I caught hold on my wife and took position behind the wall.”
“When the shots were fired, I cried out aloud and the gunman removed the nozzle from the window and escaped,” he said.
Another witness said that when gunfire stopped, he saw Tariq lying in pool of blood. “Four bullets were hit on his body out of which three had pierced through his chest.”
Tariq was shifted to Tangmarg sub-district hospital where he was declared brought dead.
Neighbours and visitors from adjoining villages who come to offer condolences recall Tariq’s wisdom, prudence and conciliation skills.
“He had been fighting for the rights of the poor and orphans,” Tariq’s brother, Shabir Ahmad said. “He was taking care of orphan girls and would love to assist them in their marriages.”
According to a police statement Tariq was killed by Lashkar-e-Taiba militant outfit. However, the militant outfit condemned the killing, terming it as a “murder.”
“Killing a worshipper before the Lord is the vilest form of terrorism,” a statement issued by LeT spokesman Abullah Ghaznawi said
The family and the village are unable to comprehend the motive behind the killing.
“He was a kind soul. Why did the gunmen kill him? What had he done to deserve this?” Shabir said.
“He had been beaten up by army and police officials many times, and kept in custody for no fault of his,” he added. On that day when Tariq was out on picnic, family and villagers say that army persons from a nearby army unit visited the house thrice in a day. The last time they came, they said that Tariq should present himself at the army camp on Friday, villagers said.
“The most painful and disturbing thing is the circle of killings which has continued unabated and that the killers are referred to as unknown gunmen,” Tariq’s son Tymwor Malik, who is pursuing graduation, sad.
“This is a very sad nomenclature, why should gunmen be unknown? They killed our innocent father and destroyed our means of livelihood and yet they are unknown,” he added.
“It demonstrates the absence of political will to identify who these unknown gunmen are.” Tariq is survived by his mother Maharaja Begum, wife Shareefa, two daughters and three sons.
“We demand fair investigation and justice,” the family said. “But the justice is nowhere and has been buried in Kashmir at the hands of oppressors.”