“Myaani shaheedo… Abid saeboo (oh my martyr, Abid!)” the cries reverberate and pierce through the shrill autumn air as mourners keep coming in the early morning from neighboring villages to pay their respects to eighteen-year-old Abid Majeed Mir, who was killed near the gunfight site in Pampore’s Meej village on Thursday.
Snuggled in a tight gathering of women out on the lawn of their two-story house – Naseema, the mother of the teenager cries with barely any emotion on her face. She stares in the distance and asks every new mourner that comes in “what was the fault of her innocent son”.
On Thursday evening, a gunfight broke out between militants affiliated with Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based outfit, and the government forces in Meej village when Mr. Abid was out on his two-year-long routine: to collect milk that he would then sell the next morning.
Before leaving his home at about 5:30 pm, Mr. Abid was asked by his neighbour to help them get the sack of sawdust to their house as winters near, recalled the mother, Ms. Naseema. Getting late to fetch the milk, he rushed, saying: “I will definitely do it in the morning.”
However, “little did any of us know that he will never return,” said Ms. Naseema.
Amid the on-going gunfight, Mr. Abid, the main earner in the family of five, was hit by a bullet in his head. During the 18-hour long gunfight, which concluded on Friday afternoon, two militants were also killed.
The backbone of the family
“786. Bismillahi Rehman-e-Raheem. Abid Hameed Mir” has been engraved on the front wall of their house, which overlooks the lawn where all the women are sitting. Mr. Abid had engraved it when he was only 13. The women respond to his mother’s wails in unison and cry out for their “Shaheed”.
Known to everyone in the small village, Mr. Abid – a gentle boy with a huge responsibility on his shoulders had given his tenth standard examination only a year ago but was forced to leave his studies completely.
The only son, Mr. Abid was the youngest child in the family with two sisters – Khushboo and Zahida. He had set his mind to help his father to manage the day to day expenses of the house and to also save enough so he could get both of his sisters married.
His father, Abdul Hameed Mir, an old frail man in his fifties, is a laborer by profession and hasn’t worked for the better part of this whole year mainly because of the COVID-19 lockdowns and his own meek health.
To support his family, Mr. Abid would leave at dawn to sell milk; later, he would go to Pampore town to collect flowers and arrange them into various decorative pieces for little profit.
“He was a hard worker,” said one of his cousins. “When we were out playing cricket, he was out working, and even though he loved to play he would only come to join us when he was done with his work.”
On Thursday, Mr. Abid had only been to two or three houses and was on his way back, with the milk tank still in his hand, when a bullet pierced his head. The family was informed by an unknown person, who answered Mr. Abid’s phone when they tried to contact him to be safe due to the ongoing gunfight.
According to the local residents and his family, he was left on the street for at least forty-five minutes before anyone approached him and was finally taken away.
Another cousin told The Kashmir Walla: “We were told he is being taken to Srinagar’s [Shri Maharaja Hari Singh] hospital so we arranged some cars and rushed straight to Srinagar. The doctors told us that he has a bullet in the head and would need surgery but would first need to be stabilized to be fit for surgery. He never stabilized and couldn’t be saved.”
So who killed him?
Mr. Abid’s mother is convinced that the army personnel deliberately shot at him and it was a “targeted killing” and not a victim of cross-firing. In her desolate state, Ms. Naseema told The Kashmir Walla: “He was not a militant, he was not a stone thrower. He didn’t have a gun in his hand, he only had milk. He was shot by military men. How can he be shot in the head like that and then be left for dead? He should have been shown some mercy. He didn’t deserve this.”
As she said this with complete faith and belief on her face, she returned back to a cowed down position, adding that she was too tired and had no energy left to talk anymore.
However, in a statement issued by the police, they claimed that the hiding militants fired indiscriminately, “resulting in injuries to two civilians…both the injured civilians were immediately rescued and shifted to hospital for the treatment. However, one of the injured identified as Abid Ahmad Mir son of Abdul Hamid Mir resident of Meej Pampore succumbed to his injuries.”