As seven freshly dug up graves became a new abode of the seven slain civilians at Pulwama, the former justice of India Markandey Katju drew parallels with Jalianwalla Bagh carnage and My Lai massacre. But the civilian killings have only added to a growing sense of fast-blurring line between combatants and civilians in the Kashmir Valley.
Yet another chilly Saturday morning in Kashmir turned bloody as its seething south witnessed the killing of seven unarmed local civilians that include a newly-married husband, a class 9 student, a carpenter’s son, a lone-bread winner, a government worker, a son of a farmer and a young 14-year-old cricketer who used to be locally addressed as Virat Kohli for his batting.
All of them were killed post a deadly counter-insurgency operation that consumed three local militants and an army man in Pulwama district’s Sirnoo village.
The incident has put the entire valley on the boil, as, for the third straight day Kashmir remained shut to mourn what the former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah termed as a “massacre”.
Aqib Ahmad Bhat, 14
The youngest of the lot, 14-year-old Aqib Ahmad Bhat was one among the hundreds who had marched towards the gunfight site in a bid to ‘rescue’ the ‘armed brethren’.
After falling prey to the Indian armed forces’ bullet-spree, he was brought dead to a hospital. For very long, he remained unidentified, until his aged father stumbled upon Aqib’s dead body and wailed: “He is my son!“.
Passionate about cricket, he was locally addressed as Virat Kohli for his batting technique. Three days before he was killed, Aqib had scored an unbeaten 75 runs in a local match. The deceased teenager is now survived by two siblings, mother, and a labourer father.
A bullet in his head claimed the 14-year-old’s life.
Suhail Rasheed, 15
Son of a mentally-unsound farmer, Suhail, too, was one among the crowd, who was present near the gunfight site. He had recently passed class 9 and was admitted to the tenth standard. A vivid anti-India protestor, Suhail was picked up during a late night raid this year’s summer, beaten up and was kept in a custody for a couple of days.
The season changed, and on one chilly winter morning, he was shot in the head by the Army. He died on the spot.
Liyaqat Majeed Dar, 17
Liyaqat had just completed his class 11 and on the day of the incident, had left his home to pay the admission fee for the twelfth class, but, could not. While returning back, he along with his student friends marched towards the gunfight site, only to become a victim of the army bullets.
When the army opened fire, reports say, Liyaqat was running away when he got shot in the back of his head.
He died on the spot.
Amir Ahmad Palla, 18
Reportedly the first civilian to fall prey to the army firing, Amir was the sole breadwinner for his family at the age of 18. He had to drop out of the school because of poverty, and was working at a Pollution Checking Centre.
A resident of Ashmandar village, which is not far away from the spot of the gunfight site where he breathed his last, Amir leaves behind two sisters, a younger brother, and ailing parents.
Shahbaz Ahmad Najar, 19
Shahbaz was reportedly killed in his neighbour’s courtyard when a bullet indiscriminately shot by the army pierced his head. Shahbaz, a BA first year student, was with his family when he encountered death.
A resident of Monghama village, he used to work as a part-time mechanic to financially support his family. His father is a carpenter by profession.
Shahbaz has left behind his parents and two brothers, of which, one is handicapped.
Abid Hussain Lone, 28
Abid’s is one of the most tragic stories. He has left behind a three-month-old daughter after recently getting married to an Indonesian woman. A management graduate, Abid had just recently moved to his hometown along with his family.
As per reports, Abid was almost half a kilometer from the gunfight area when a bullet hit the left side of his face that bore through his throat and exited from the neck.
“I had heard Kashmir is a heaven on earth,” Firstpost quoted Abid’s wife as saying. If only she knew how routinely it burns.
Touseef Ahmad Mir, 29
Touseef, was shot when he was rescuing a fellow local who had been hit by a bullet. The bullet-victim survived, but in that process, Touseef lost his life. A resident of Urichursoo, Touseef was his father’s only son, among five daughters. He was married and had two kids.
Reports say Mir had gone to a local milkman with his surplus milk for sale. While returning, he joined a group of locals in an auto that was moving towards the gunfight site.
He was shot dead on the spot.
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