The KAS aspirant who wanted to serve his poor parents is shot dead
A village more than 50 kilometers away from Srinagar, Ganopora, made headlines all over Kashmir, amongst the violence that has gripped the valley from far north to down South. The cordon and Search operations have become a daily affair and so has the stone throwing for disruption of the same. Recently, at least, 20 villages were besieged in the Shopian district of Southern Kashmir after militant videos surfaced over the internet and army alleged it was shot in Shopian.
Demonstrators on the way to Shopian have erected barricades with piles of tree trunks, heavy stones to keep the paramilitary troopers away from the area. The anger on both sides is palpable and then, a bang, the sound of tear gas canisters being fired pierces the air.
Late Tuesday, Army launched a cordon and search operation in Ganopra area of Shopian. Locals gathered disrupting the army operations, bullets were fired, it was Aadil Farooq aged 20 who was shot at and fell on the ground, reports said. Walking through the mazes of the area, I saw dozens of banners in support of militants erected in the in-routes of Shopian. When I reached Ganopora, hundreds of mourning women had gathered at the one-Storeyed house of Farooq Ahmed Magray. Men had gathered in a small tent where a preacher said “The gardens of paradise await the martyr.”
The Friends of Aadil Farooq had all gathered outside the house in disbelief. “We all throw stones, but him, he had never picked any. Yesterday, he came out with us, he was near a shop when he was targeted, the army man targeted him, because he was the only one who was constantly at the shop, all others chasing and being chased. He was spotted and then there was a loud bang and down he fell. When we reached the hospital, he was declared dead” a friend says. Aadil's death sparked widespread anger, with thousands of demonstrators shouting slogans, "Go India, go back" and "We want freedom", as they marched with the boy's body. Thousands of people including women gathered early morning today 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).
Thousands of people gathered for the last rites of Aadil at Shopian
"Aadil wasn't a militant. He was a student 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.
"The state is barbarous against us. Many boys have been martyred, blinded. These [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 upon us, but we never will, not till the last Kashmiri is alive. PDP was once a heart rob and South was their fortress, but their policies have been cruel.” Abdullah, a 58 year old man says.
The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is in power in New Delhi, is part of the coalition government in Jammu Kashmir for the first time in the state's history. It draws its support from the Hindu majority population of southern Jammu region of the state.
Farooq Ahmed, Aadil’s father is being consoled by men in the tent erected outside the house for mourners. Men in a hidebound society like Kashmir are least supposed to weep. So Farooq Ahmed has a white handkerchief in his left hand to wipe his tears constantly.
Farooq who initially had refused to speak begins to open up, explaining how on the Tuesday evening, he heard people shouting outside. From an upstairs window he heard announcements being made on Loudspeakers of a local mosque asking people to come out to rescue militants who are trapped in the area. The disruption of Cordon and Search operations has become a routine in the Southern part of Kashmir.
“I am a farmer, I have five sons and he was the eldest. He was my hope as he assisted all of his brothers. After passing his 12th exam, he changed from Medical to Arts Stream and said he wanted to be a KAS officer. He was an example for his younger brothers” Farooq tells. Whenever Farooq used to come tired home after a busy day of farming, he would say ‘Father, our poverty is ending soon, I will help you out of this poverty, I will study hard and harder and be a KAS officer, I will help the family come out of poverty” Farooq says. “He was a fantastic boy, he spent his time mostly with books and he loved to spend time with Facebook and whatsapp. He never missed prayers or fasting”
Farooq Ahmed claims that the family did not know of the incident, they thought Aadil was out with friends, but when they heard the sound of bullets, they panicked like any family would. “He was the dearest son as he would teach his younger brothers and ask them to focus on studies, he would give them lectures for hours together about the family and the urge to study and help us out of poverty.” Farooq recalls how, after he suffered a health issue a year ago, Aadil had told him, "Father, you've done enough looking after us, all our lives. It's time for you to rest now." The news of the cordon and search operation is not rare in the Southern Kashmir villages. The paramilitary troopers cordon the areas very often. Farooq’s face was knotted with anger as he narrated the events that led to his son's death. “What good will it do to talk about what happened?" he asks. “If India claims, Kashmir is their ‘Atoot Ang’, (inseparable part), why do they murder civilians? Why do the protests happen at the first place, why?” Farooq asks.
"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 Farooq says.
Aadil was gentle and virtuous, according to his neigbours. "There was no one like him in our neighbourhood," says Ghulam Rasool aged 71. "He walked with his head down. He never fought with anyone. He was a good boy."
“Youngsters here identify themselves with the militants because every Kashmiri has suffered at the hands of Indian troopers, either physically or mentally. A novel generation of educated and young Kashmiris is being pushed to the wall, forced to take arms, to take up violence once again, which might not be the solution. It might be getting easier for Indian state to crush militancy but the cries of ordinary Kashmiris are louder than ever now” another local, Aarif Ahmed in his mid 20’s says after which a loud slogan of “Hum kya chahte” is heard in the background.