Slain Kulgam civilians had one thing in common….poverty
Kulgam: At around 11:45 Pm late in the night on Tuesday, a gunfight raged in South Kashmir’s Kulgam District as three militants opened fire on a patrol party. More troops from 1 Rashtriya Rifles, Jammu Kashmir Police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were called in and a siege was placed around the Wani Mohallah locality.
As soon as gunshots reverberated in the area during the next morning, civilians in large numbers hit the streets to disrupt the anti militancy operation. In an attempt to save the holed up militants, four civilians identified as Faisal Allie (15), Bilal Ahmed Tantray (17), Aijaz Ahmed Pala (30) and Sharjeel Ahmed Sheikh (27) were killed. All the slain civilians were from humble backgrounds with lot of responsibilities on their soldiers.
Sharjeel Ahmad Sheikh of Khudwani was the first civilian killed near the encounter site at Khudwani area of South Kashmir’s Kulgam district on 11 April. Sharjeel, was scheduled to get married after four days of his death on 15 April.
“Sharjeel was informed by the local police that he has been charge sheeted in the 2017 Amarnath attack,” said the father of Sharjeel, Abdul Hameed Sheikh.
“Since then he had gone into hiding to evade arrest,” he said.
“We spent the whole night together at a house near the encounter site. He called his father in the morning and said that he is fine, but when Sharjeel tried to venture outside to observe the situation in the morning around 6:30 am he was shot at by an army man in the chest leaving him injured on the ground, “said Shakeel Wani, friend of Sharjeel.
“We tried to rescue him and take him to the hospital but they (Army) didn’t let us do so and threatened of shooting at us,” he said.
Sobia Wani, local woman said that she also tried to help Sharjeel but the army men caught hold of her and dragged her away from the spot where Sharjeel lie injured.
“After about an hour later they (Indian Army) let two minor boys Musaib and Mujeeb, to pick him up and we rushed him to the hospital but doctors declared him as brought dead because of the excessive loss of blood, “said Shakeel.
“We don’t expect anything from the government-o inquiry or anything in this case,” his father said.
Sharjeel was a driver by profession, he had two sisters and two brothers all married.
“India wants us all to pick up guns, they are now easily targeting civilians in Kashmir,” said his father.
Bilal Ahmad Tantray of Kujur area of South Kashmir’s Kulgam district, a 12th class dropout, was another civilian who fell to the bullets on the fateful day.
Bilal belonged to a very poor family. His father is a driver by profession and had four minor brothers to take care of. Bilal was at his maternal home in Hawura, Kulgam when he called his parents saying that he will be home today, but when Bilal reached near Redwani Ghat where the clashes were going on, he was hit by two bullets piercing his neck and chest, said his uncle.
“Locals rushed him to the nearby PHC at Quimoh where doctors declared him brought dead,” his uncle said.
Relatives of Bilal said they do won’t ask for any investigation or enquiry probing the circumstances that lead to his death.
“There are thousands of cases like this pending at various levels so we don’t expect anything substantial in our case as well,” said one of his agitated relative.
Aijaz Ahmad Palla, was another civilian to have been killed in forces action. Ajaz, married sine the last eight years to Firdousa was living with his in-laws since his marriage at Tulkhan Bijbehara area of south Kashmir.
Palla, a carpenter by profession was killed by a bullet fired by the troops during the clashes at Khudwani area of South Kashmir Kulgam District where an encounter was going on.
“The couple was waiting for the day when they will be blessed by a child. But destiny had some other things in store for them,” says Nazir Ahmad, a relative.
“I wonder how Firdousa will be able to live with the fact that she has been left all alone in this world now,” added Nazir.
The Kulgam encounter saw a young boy also falling to the bullets. Fazil Ahmad Allie, a 14 year old boy was a 9th class student at GHSS Arwani. Fazil was a resident of Malikpora Batpora Sangam. Fazil was also killed by a bullet fired at the protesters by army men near the encounter site at Khudwani area Of Kulgam District.