Botengu, Anantnag(KHALID GUL):Ghulam Rasool Bhat, a 70-year-old farmer from this village in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, cannot believe his eyes that his youngest child, Zahid, is no more.
The 18-year-old boy—a class 10th student—was set ablaze by a mob in Udhampur district in Jammu region nine days back and succumbed to his injuries at Safderjung hospital in New Delhi on Sunday.
Zahid was accompanying a local truck driver, Rameez Ahmad Bhat, and conductor Showkat Ahmad of Uranhall village, when they were attacked by the mob in Shiv Nagar area of Udhampur. While Rameez escaped unhurt, Showkat received burn injuries and is undergoing treatment in the same hospital.
“It was Zahid’s elder brother Muhammad Ashraf who would usually accompany the fruit-laden trucks to outside states. But this time he was busy, so Zahid volunteered to accompany the truck,” said his father.
He said Zahid called him and his mother several times and seemed quite excited about his journey to New Delhi.
“My son was supposed to reach home the day he was burnt alive by the mob in Udhampur,” said Rasool. “The mob had sprayed petrol all over his body before burning him. His face and body received serious burn injuries.”
He said Zahid was the only one among all his seven children—including three daughters who are married—to have received education.
“I toiled hard to raise my family and marry off my sons and daughters. With meager resources, I could not afford their education. But Zahid was dear to all of us and we wanted to provide him the best possible education,” his father said.
He said their house was damaged in the last year’s floods, and with no help from the government, his sons were struggling to get it renovated.
“The government wanted to silence us by providing Rs 20,000 as compensation. But I and Showkat’s family returned Rs 40,000 to the Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed during his visit to Government Degree College (Boys), Khanbal, Anantnag this week,” said Rasool.
He said he wanted to sell his four kanal paddy land to get his son treated.
“Chief Minister and his government is directly responsible for the killing of my son because they are giving a free hand to Hindu fanatics,” said Rasool.
He said he does not expect justice from the state government.
“Our children are burnt alive and pro-India political parties, for their lust of power, are playing politics over their blood,” he lamented.
In the house of bereaved family, everyone is in a state of shock.
“My brother Zahid, come back. We are waiting for you,” his sisters scream. Zahid’s mother, Zaina Begum, is in a state of shock and not uttering a word even as women around try to console her.