Shopian: Shada Banoo shouldered the coffin of her 10-year-old lone son from the funeral ground to the graveyard in Shopian’s Daramdoor village on Thursday. A week ago, her son Musharaf, a Class 6 student, had picked up a shell from an encounter site between government forces and militants, brought the shell to his home, and was playing with it in the courtyard when it exploded in his hand.
Family sources told Kashmir Reader that Mushraf brought the live shell from the encounter site of Choegund-Adoo village where a teenager boy, Shakir Ahmad of Kalanpora, was killed in firing by government forces after two militants were killed in an encounter there. Two women, including the sister of one of the slain militants, were also injured in the firing by government forces. Both of them are being treated at SKIMS Srinagar.
Heart-wrenching scenes were witnessed in Daramdoor, where several women fainted while others wailed when the body of Musharaf was being carried towards the graveyard. Abdul Salam, 55, a villager, said, “I was on the terrace of my house when I heard the sound of an explosion. I rushed towards the house as I thought it was the explosion of an LPG cylinder, but when I reached there I saw this kid lying on the ground with other children crying around him.”
Two rounds of funeral prayers were offered for the slain boy by tens of hundreds of mourners with several addresses by resistance leaders. Dozens of school children, classmates of Musharaf, were also seen wailing for their friend.
Close relatives of the family said Musharaf was the lone son of his parents. He has left behind his parents and two sisters, aged 13 and 6. Locals from the village said Fayaz Ahmad Najar, father of the slain boy, is a carpenter by profession.
Classmates and school teachers of Musharaf said he was famous for reciting Naat. “He was bestowed with a melodious voice,” Manzoor Ahmad, a teacher, said.
Locals said that due to the shell’s explosion, Musharaf’s hand was torn apart and there was serious damage to his face, too. According to doctors at SKIMS, where Musharaf was in the critical care unit since January 25, he had suffered damages to his brain.
Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Geelani addressed the gathering of mourners through a 13-minute phone call. One Sikh leader, identified by locals as Devinder Singh, also addressed the gathering and said India must stop the killings of innocent people and black laws like AFSPA should be removed from Kashmir.
Senior superintendent of police Shopian, Ambarkar Shriram Dinkar, said the death of the boy was tragic. “There remains a chance of live explosive material because militants, too, are armed with these kind of explosives and there are quite a few hideouts where militants keep them. Civilians must stay away from such areas. When people go near encounter sites they must understand the danger of the presence of live explosive material,” he said.
He added, “there is a difference between going to funerals and going to encounter sites. Elders must make people aware regarding the dangers at encounter sites. We always put out a public advisory so that people should not go near encounter sites. We are always available for help. People can contact us before going near the debris at encounter sites.”
He also said, “At the risk of our lives we extinguish all fires before leaving an encounter site, despite several odds like stone-pelting and risk to the lives of those who clean the debris.”
Meanwhile, a complete shutdown was observed on the eighth consecutive day in Shopian. All shops, business establishments, government and private offices were closed while transport was off the roads.