Srinagar: Shattered by the assassination of her husband, 35-year old Nazia Akhtar appears unable to deal with the tragedy that struck her family on Saturday.
Hurriyat(G) activist Rehman Sultani, 42, was killed by unknown gunmen near his home in Bomai.
“Did the assailant not know he was going to orphan five daughters besides widowing a mother,” Akhtar said, wailing and mourning at her home on Sunday.
She gazed at her youngest daughter Duha Hakim, just four years of age, who couldn’t understand the difference between being ill and being dead.
“When she (Duha) saw the body of her father, she cried mama, don’t we have sufficient money to treat Abuji. We will approach nearby darasgah, they keep money in a collection box,” said the mother of five girls aged between 15 and 4 years.
Hugging each of her daughters, Akhtar screamed uncontrollably in pain. The youngest was born while her deceased husband, Sultani was in jail and saw her first when she was three months old.
The grieving widow said that early Saturday morning Sultani received a call from police asking him to accompany them to court for a challan was to be produced in one of the cases against him.
He feared arrest, Akhtar said, but instead got a bullet in his head on his return from the court as he was approaching his home in a vehicle.
“None of us heard any sound of bullet. The unknown gunmen fired from a silencer fitted pistol as evident from the empty cartilage,” said her father, Muhammad Yahya.
Family members say Sultani got associated with Tehreek-e-Hurriyat soon after he spearheaded a successful agitation for the removal of an army post in Bomai, which was known as Rajinder post, after soldiers from the camp were accused of killing two youths in the area in 2009.
Sultani actively participated in the 2016 agitation, however, he never advocated stone pelting and believed in peaceful agitation, his family says.
“He (Sultani) used to participate in protests but was never involved in any type of violence,” said Abdul Rashid, his relative, adding that the deceased was arrested that year under PSA and jailed for two years.
Sultani was released from prison a few months earlier and had started leading Friday prayers in a local mosque.
“He was leading a normal life. On Friday he used to lead prayers at a nearby mosque and thereafter he would remain busy at his field besides taking care of his children,” said his father-in-law.
Sultani’s family refute militants killed him, saying his past association with different agitations was the most likely cause.
“He was not in the good books of different security agencies. Even during 2010 agitation he was hit with a bullet in leg allegedly by government forces and remained bedridden for around seven months,” Sultani’s uncle said.