Photostory: The bloodied Sunday in Kulgam
Laroo, a village in volatile Kulgam district in South Kashmir witnessed affecting scenes portraying a deep loss and melancholy. On 21st October 2018, Sunday morning ten people lost their lives including seven civilians and three armed fighters.
On 20th of October 2018, Indian troops had laid down a midnight cordon around a dozen houses in Laroo village of South Kashmir’s Kulgam district. By morning next day, three local armed fighters were killed who were hiding in one of the houses.
Locals said, when the fight was over, the forces left the area and people rushed towards the site of the gunfight to see what had happened and a shell exploded outside the burnt house leaving seven civilians dead.
The victims include Uzair Mushtaq, Mohammad Mukeem, Talib Maqbool Laway, Mansoor Ahmad Dar, Aaqib Gulzar, Irshad Ahmad Padder, and Javed Ahmad Lone.
1. Uzair Mushtaq, 13, was the lone son of Mushtaq Ahmad Dar, a class 8th student, resident of the main town Kulgam got killed near encounter site but no one could confirm it whether he was hit by a bullet or unexploded shell. He had one sister, Tanzeela, who is in class 4th.
Uzair had left his house around 10:30 am to reach the encounter site where three local rebels were killed.
”I was busy threshing paddy when Uzair left after taking twenty rupees from me”, Uzair’s father, Mushtaq Ahmad said.
”Whether bullet killed him or blast, he is a martyr for me… ” sighingly, he added,
While people were carrying Uzair’s body towards the local graveyard, Indian troops fired tear smoke shells, pellets and bullets towards the mourners leaving few people injured.
2. Mohammad Mukeem, 18, son of Hafizullah Bhat, a class twelfth student, resident of Laroo village where the encounter took place was going to write his first paper on Monday.
According to locals, Mukeem was the first who approached the encounter site. He had two younger siblings, one brother, Adnan, who is in class 9th and one sister who is in class 5th.
”Who was going to appear in the examination himself became the reason for the cancellation of the examination for all the students across Kashmir” said Mukeem’s neighbour in a muffled voice.
3. Talib Maqbool Laway, 18, son of late Mohammad Maqbool Laway, a resident of Laroo Kulgam, a student of BA Ist semester at GDC Kulgam was the lone breadwinner of the family. He was living with his mother and one elder sister who had left studies because of poverty.
His father had died 16 years ago when he was just two years old. Talib used to work in the spare time to continue his studies and to run his family.
Talib had to write the last paper of his Ist semester on Monday.
4. Mansoor Ahmad Dar, 27, son of Ghulam Mohammad Dar, a resident of Bogund Kulgam had left his house around 10 am to visit the encounter site. At around 3 pm, Mansoor was brought home dead.
Mansoor had done PG in history and B.Ed and was working as a cable operator to feed his family. He married three years ago and has left behind his wife and a two-year-old son. He was the lone son of his family and had two sisters, one of them is married and another one is pursuing masters in Urdu at the University of Kashmir. His father, who was a farmer, met a car accident two years ago and from last six months, his body is half paralyzed making him bedridden.
5. Aquib Gulzar, 20, son of Gulzar Ahmad Sheikh, a resident of Makand pora, Kulgam, died on spot after the shell exploded. His mother had died in 2006 when Aaqib was a kid. Then his father had remarried and had left Aaqib along with his three brothers and two sisters. One of the sisters among is married.
To run their family, Aaqib’s elder brother used to work in apple orchards and Aaqib used to sell different seasonal things on a cart. As told by his elder brother he was ”Banjoor”, a Kashmiri term for the vendor.
6. Irshad Ahmad Padder, 21, a resident of Shurat, had recently completed BA from GDC Kulgam. Irshad was living with his two brothers among whom one is working in Jammu and Kashmir Police as SI and another one, Waheed Ahmad, who is of Irshad’s age, also completed his BA recently. He also had three sisters among whom one is married, second one left studies and another one is in 9th grade.
Locals said, Irshad was injured at the encounter site but when he was taken to the district hospital, doctors declared him ‘brought dead.’