Thousands of people including women gathered early morning on Sunday to bid farewell to the ‘martyr’ at his funeral. Women later marched towards his house singing songs of bravery, “Qoum Ke Shaheedo, Goor Goor Karyo” (Farewell oh martyr of the motherland).
The Kashmir valley witnessed a bloody Sunday on 01 April when 13 Militants and 4 Civilians were shot dead in South Kashmir. Among the killed Civilians, Mushtaq Ahmed Thoker aged 38 was shot dead in Dragad Shopian encounter.
South Kashmir has turned into a hotbed of Militancy post the killing of Burhan Wani on 08 July, 2016. Security Agencies have dotted their eyes over the developments in this part of Kashmir.
On 31 March, Around 11pm, the Government Forces including 44 RR, CRPF and Jammu Kashmir police after receiving specific inputs about the presence of Militants laid cordon in Sugan area of Shopian district. The Militants fired upon the troopers’ triggering an Encounter. 7 Militants which is the largest number since a long were killed in the Encounter.
In another Encounter, 4 Militants were shot dead at another place in Shopian. Four Civilians who were allegedly trying to disrupt the Anti Militancy Operations were also shot dead. Among them was Mushtaq Ahmed thoker son of Ghulam Mohammed thoker. Aged 38 resident of Sugan, Mushtaq was associated with fruit business in the area.
“Mushtaq was killed when forces asked him to go inside the house where militants were hiding to call the civilians to come out of the house,” an eyewitness told The Kashmiriyat.
After Mushtaq entered the house, the troopers kept an eye on the civilian, the eyewitness said.
“They showered him with endless number of bullets, He was used as a Human shield,” he said while speaking to The Kashmiriyat.
Mushtaq’s death sparked widespread anger, with thousands of demonstrators shouting slogans, “Go India, go back” and “We want freedom”, as they marched along with the Civilian’s body.
“Mushtaq wasn’t a militant. He was a Businessman, a civilian who had never even thrown a stone, why was he made the target? In Kashmir, non combatants and militants, protesters and non protesters meet the same fate, we all will be killed if not today, then tomorrow, or may be a day after. The militants are freedom fighters to us, they are what Gandhi and Bhagat Singh were to Indians,” Shakir, a 19 year old demonstrator told ‘The Kashmiriyat’ in the Ganopora area of Shopian.
Zareefa, Mushtaq’s mother is being consoled by women mourners in the tent erected outside the house for mourners.
Zareefa who initially had refused to speak begins to open up, explaining how on the Saturday Night, she heard people shouting outside. From an upstairs window they heard announcements being made on Loudspeakers of a local mosque asking people to come out to rescue militants who are trapped in the area.
“His father had a heart attack after hearing the news that his son is no more,” she told while talking to The Kashmiriyat.
Whenever Mushtaq used to come tired home after a busy day of business, he would say ‘Mother, our poverty is ending soon.
Mushtaq has left behind old aged parents, his wife and twin namely Hadi Mushtaq (boy) and Lubna Mushtaq girl both aged 12.
“My Aba is a polite man, he always tells us stories, he will tell your stories too, Wait for him to come back, he will speak to you, Mr. Journalist,” Hadi told me, unaware about her father’s death.
“He will come back and get me ice cream, he has told me when he left home,” Lubna sobs.
“What will I do without him? What will the family do? When young school going children are shot at, civilians murdered, what do you expect people to do? We all might soon end up taking up arms. There can be no alternative, there is no alternative.” A weeping Cousin of Mushtaq says.
Mushtaq was gentle and virtuous, according to his neigbours. “There was no one like him in our neighbourhood,” says Ghulam Rasool aged 71.
Mohd iqbal bhat son of late manzoor Ahmad Bhat , Zubair Ahmed bhat son of Ab Ahad Bhat age 22 resident of Gopalpora, Mehraj ud din Mir Son of M yaseen Mir age 25 resident of okay kulgam were the other three civilians killed in Shopian on Sunday.
“The state is barbarous against us. Many boys have been killed, blinded. These men [paramilitary forces] represent the Indian government here. They come to our mosques. They break the windows of our houses. They come into our homes when we’re praying. They beat our mothers. They beat our sisters. They want us to accept their rule, but we never will, not till the last Kashmiri is alive. PDP (Local Party in power) was once the heart rob and South Kashmir was their fortress, but their policies have been cruel.” Abdullah, a 58 year old man says.
16 unarmed Civilians have been shot dead while throwing Stones on Government Forces Despite several warnings in 2018.
Political Analysts have said the lack of political will from the both India and Pakistan is leading to an escalation of numbers joining the protests to disrupt the Anti Militancy Operations of Indian Army.
In 2018, 55 Militants have also been shot dead during Anti Militancy Operations. Stats also reveal that 206 Militants were killed the last year and the number of active Militants by the beginning of 2017 was 220, however this year the numbers have gone up to 230, this despite the huge number of killings in 2017.
Unofficial figures reveal that 98,000 people have been killed since 1988 when an Armed Insurgency began In Kashmir. India and Pakistan both claim the region in totality.
Though the Indian State has initiated a dialogue process, many political activists have claim that the dialogue is merely eyewash as India continues the unabated arrests and forceful Anti Militancy operations.
Mohd iqbal bhat son of late manzoor Ahmad Bhat got killed near encounter site kachdoora when he was on the way to visit his in laws in chatewatan, Locals told The Kashmiriyat. He has left behind a 18 months old baby girl Aiza and wife.
Zubair Ahmed bhat son of Ab Ahad Bhat age 22 resident of Gopal pora got killed near encounter site in kachdoora. Zubair has left behind old aged parents a handicapped brother namely sameer and two unmarried sisters.
Mehraj ud din Mir, Son of M yaseen Mir age 25 resident of okay kulgam was died on the way to hospital. He was 10th drop out and now working as labour.
He has left behind parents, 2 sisters and one brother all, unmarried. 4 round of funeral prayers were held before he was laid to at his native village.
Author: Qazi Shibli
Qazi Shibli is a News Editor with ‘The Kashmiriyat.’ He is a Journalism graduate from Bangalore University.