‘It is a doomsday for us’
Shopian, April 03: There was scarcely anyone in the village of Amshipora who had managed to sleep through the night. Songs of freedom and defiance playing on the mosque loudspeaker kept everyone up. In any case, the anguish of losing a bright young man of the village was so deep that somehow everyone felt that they must mourn with the Dars by staying close to them.
Aitimad Hussain Dar was twenty-six-year-old with an MPhil from Hyderabad University. He was killed by the government forces with four of his comrades in a long gunfight in the Kachdora village, not far from his home. Aitimad had quit his dream of pursuing a PhD program from the University of Kashmir and instead taken up arms against the government.
Late on Sunday, many hours after they had died, the police gave over the half-burnt bodies to the families for performing the last rites. So when the first rays of the sun touched the village, mourners from the adjoining villages trooped into Amshipora to catch a glimpse of Aitimad whom they saw as a hero and martyr. The funeral went on for many hours as several rounds of prayers were held for the slain guerrilla fighter.
“He (Aitmad) came from a well-off family and lived a luxurious life. He never showed any inclination towards militancy. He was a calm guy who would read a lot,” said his friends.
There were four funerals performed in the Shopian and Kulgam areas of the south on Tuesday attracting tens of thousands of mourners who raised pro-freedom slogans.
Some miles away, the village of Paddarpora was mourning the death of Rayees Ahmad Thokar, who was killed in a gunfight in another shootout in the south. Rayees had taken up arms just six months before and become part of Hizbul Mujahideen. He was still in his teens and would have started his college this year. It was not the first son that the Thokars had lost; fifteen years back, the elder brother of Rayees, a Hizbul Mujahideen, had died for the similar cause for which Rayees laid down his life. While the family was barely done with the last rites of Rayees, the news came to them of another death. IshfaqThokar, a first cousin of Rayees, and also a HizbulMujahideen militant, had been killed in another gunfight with the government forces.
The Thokar boys weren’t the only ones to be buried by the mourners in the village. They were told that Gayasul Islam, another boy of the village, and also a Hizb militant had been killed by the government forces. Gayas also, if he had not taken up arms, would have started college this year. “We lost three tender souls in a day. It is no less than a doomsday for us,” said a villager.
A similar outpouring of anger and grief was seen in the nearby Kulgam district where the mourners buried two men, one a guerrilla fighter and another civilian killed by the government forces. Aaqib Bashir quit his studies to join Hizbul Mujahideen last year and Mehraj-u-din Mir was shot by the government forces as he and many other protestors pelted the government forces with stones to help the besieged militants flee. He was badly injured and died later in a hospital.
When the funerals were performed many mourners broke away from them and threw stones at the government forces. They responded as they always do, firing pellets at the protestors that left at least a dozen protestors injured. “Three of the injured had received pellets in eyes,” a doctor at SDH Shopian said. In Seer, Anantnag four protestors were admitted to a hospital with pellet-inflicted wounds.