SHOPIAN: The last three months have brought wave on wave of grief to Hawoora village of Kulgam, which witnessed the arrival this week of one more dead body even as the establishment of an army camp on the village peripheries spread further fear among its inhabitants.
The continuous shutdowns and protests that spread even to Lal Chowk for the camp’s removal didn’t work: the camp is still there, and forces are busy raising concrete structures for it.
The camp was established despite Hawoora being already surrounded by three army camps in the nearby villages of Fresal, Khudwani and Sonigam, all within a three-kilometre radius.
The body of Javid Ahmad Lone, 27, was the last to return of the seven civilians who fell when an unexploded device went off soon after the October 21 encounter at the district’s Laroo village.
Three Jaish-e-Mohammad militants were also killed in the encounter.
For the villagers of Hawoora, Javid’s death comes upon the grief over three young people, including a teenage girl, Andleeba Jan, killed in army firing on July 7. The firing took place a day before the second anniversary of the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani, as the authorities prepared to foil civilian protests.
“Our wounds were fresh, and we were about to come out of the shock which government forces unleashed on us that day,” says a local resident who was visiting the family of the slain Javid. “We were garrisoned with thick military layers, we are not allowed to even breathe comfortably.”
On October 4, the JK government told the State Human Rights Commission that Andleeba Jan was part of a ‘stone pelting mob’ and was killed by the army in ‘self defence’. Shakir Ahmad and Irshad Majeed were the two other civilians who were killed at different spots on July 7.
Javid, according to family members, was a mini bus driver who along with his younger brother used to help his parents earn their livelihood.
“I was the conductor and Javid the driver; we were able to earn hand to mouth by driving the passenger vehicle,” said Ilyas Ahmad, Javid’s younger brother.
The family said that Javid had sustained grievous injuries to his head and body as he accompanied a large group of people to the site of Sunday’s encounter at Laroo. After several hours of battle with life and death, he breathed his last on Sunday evening.
Javid was laid to rest on Monday morning as thousands attended the funeral prayers. Militants appeared near the graveyard and offered gun salutes to the slain.
A group of mourners whom Kashmir Reader talked to said that they were afraid after the establishment of the army camp and that due to the fear they had been delayed in harvesting their rice and horticulture products.
“That fear rose now when we laid to rest another young boy of our village,” a local named Bashir Ahmad said.