Bandipora, Jun 30(Ieshan Wani):Roads are blocked, shops are closed and life has come to halt. Big logs of wood and rocks have been put on roads to block the way. We make some space for our motorbike. A mid-aged man approaches us and asks: where are we heading? He knows the answer, but still asks.
After explaining to the man, we start moving towards the destination. Most of the men are looking out from the windows of their houses; streets present a deserted look, as we cross the area where police and other government forces have been deployed in huge numbers.
They look at us as we go past them. There suspicious eyes casts clouds of doubt. Another road block after 50 meters ahead. We ask an elderly man about the name of the place, we see a large number of people coming out from a graveyard.
Yes, that’s what we were heading to. Reached Malakhand in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district, the village where army killed Irfan Ahmad, 17, during night. Women have gathered outside the graveyard were they are wailing. Some are singing a lullaby for Irfan.
His uncle is surrounded by dozens of young men. He recalls the incident and says that the Army didn’t allowed them to move out. “Deputy Commissioner and other top brass of police and other agencies came here accepted that the incident is a brutality from the army” he says.
His clothes are ragged and eyes are moist as he rejects the investigation being ordered by the government. He says that no investigation is fair in Kashmir while the gravedigger fills Irfan’s grave with moulds of mud.
People start to leave, some move to their house. We walk along meeting one group after another. Most of houses in the village have no walls and have mud houses.
We enter Irfan’s house. A young boy points out to a woman beating her chest. She is Irfan’s mother, he says. She loudly recapitulating the last moments she spent with her son. Her dirges like arrows. All the relatives have gathered at their house. One of his relatives shows Irfan’s photo. The wailing grows. The outburst sinks with the protests outside.
His elder brother Riyaz Ahmad is wearing ‘pheran’, a closed cloak worn in winters. I start to go closer to him and ask about the death of his brother. He says that robbery has been taking place in this village from some days. “We came to know that some robbers were in the village as we stepped out, they (army) fired indiscriminately at us”.
He breaks down. Then wipes his tears. Anger grips him. He says Irfan was just an 11th grade student. Riyaz is a driver and his father Ghulam Nabi is a farmer.
On our return from the house, his uncle is now surrounded by six men at the entrance of the graveyard. We can hear a man from the group speak: “now all political parties would arrive here just for their political benefits, including separatists”.
Along with other journalist, I decide to move to the house of another youth, who according to locals was killed when army opened fire on protestors.
A twenty minute drive and we reach a place where the road is blocked with bushes and wires by the locals, raising anti-India and pro-freedom slogans. People are demanding the body of Tariq Ahmad, 22, who was an employee at Car shop. Locals say he was at a marriage ceremony of his relative where Irfan was killed.
Men are aimlessly looking around. They are sitting beneath the shadow of a big tree and shops which are closed. Movement of traffic is hampered; many trucks have stopped on the roadside. They are waiting for the body to arrive, which was sent for post mortem.
Death has knocked door of Tariq’s house many times recently. His brother died in an accident and husband of his elder sister passed away just few years after their marriage. Now the family was planning to get him married with the wife of his elder brother who died in an accident.
His sister calls him a groom and frequently asks God for mercy. Suddenly news about the body arrives.An ambulance carrying his body reaches near the gate of their house. His old father starts to tremble as he takes the body of his son on his shoulders.
The body is being brought inside where people are shouting pro-freedom slogans. His father kisses his face; women start to throw almonds on his body. Some among them start to fall unconscious as his face is shown to the people gathered.
His brother starts to apply henna on his hands as they close his body under a blue blanket and take him to the local graveyard.
Courtesy: Kashmir Dispatch