Militant or student?


By Fahad Shah

“Did you see my beloved anywhere?” holding tears at the ends of her eye lids a forlorn mother asked in a dimly lit room with red curtains and black blankets on the floor. In her fifties, Zamrooda Shah, mother of Peerzada Arshid Ahmed Shah who was killed on Monday afternoon in Qamarwari chowk shootout entered the room. Wearing silver coated embroidered Pheran (long coat) and a head scarf she sat on my right side. Resting herself against a cushion, she looked here and there, searching for something invisible.

”]Nineteen-year-old Arshid was from Alsafa colony, Sopore, 55 kilometers away from Srinagar in North Kashmir’s Baramulla district. His father, Peerzada Bashir Ahmed Shah who is an employee with State Revenue department and also writes poetry is from Pothkhah, Sopore from where they shifted ten years ago. His mother is from Handwara. Wife of Member parliament and National Conference leader, Shareef-ud-din Shariq is aunt of his mother.

On Sunday afternoon Arshid told his mother he would go Srinagar to get admit card of his annual examinations. “At around 3 pm he left. He was helping his brother in construction of trench at home,” Zamrooda says amid sobs.

Arshid was studying in first year of commerce degree at Government degree college, Bemina. He had joined college last year and it was his first annual examination. When the Valley erupted with large ‘Quit Jammu Kashmir Movement’ protests, Arshid started learning Carpentry. “He used to say I will marry off elder sister myself. I will earn while college is off. I don’t want to be burden on father. He started going with a carpenter,” his brother Tanveer Ahmed Shah told The Kashmir Walla.

At 14:30 I boarded a sumo from Batmalloo to Sopore. I reached at around 16:00. My friend who had been waiting since I called him earlier met me. We boarded a matador to Alsafa Colony which took nearly half an hour to reach. After de-boarding the matador while walking we met a man who told us he is also going to Arshid’s home. We were together now. We took a left turn which opened in a narrow lane. Walking some more meters we found boys standing outside a house. The gate was full open on the left side and we stepped in. A galaxy of shoes welcomed us in the tent. A multi-colored tent which are usually used for mournings. We entered into the tent and settled at one corner. I could see Arshid’s father consoled by every mourner who was crossing me in opposite corner.

“On Monday morning at around 8 am Arshid telephoned his friend, Fayaz who drives a taxi,” his heart patient mother having pacemaker in her heart said while pointing towards Fayaz who was sitting outside. “Arshid had told him if you have to come Srinagar then call me, I will go back home with you.”

Tanveer is studying in Industrial Training Institute (ITI), a frail man with red-moist-tired eyes observing my every question while we were talking in the room. He said, “Arshid had always been telling me this year it’s his university examinations so he has to do hard work. For last five months we had been idle and couldn’t study.”

On Monday evening two policemen in civvies had come to their house and informed them about Arshid’s killing. They told them to accompany them for identifying him. “We went to SP office at 6 pm and I saw my brother’s picture on a laptop. He was shot in head and that wound was filled with dry grass. Other bullet had hit him on chin breaking his lower jaws,” Tanveer said.

Continues Tanveer, “We were asked to bury him before mid-night but we refused. Every uniformed men in SP office made us wait for hours to take his dead body. The dead body was given to us at 2:15 am Monday morning.” On Tuesday morning at 8 am, Arshid was laid to rest in local graveyard at Achabal, a kilometer away from Alsafa colony.

I returned back. After walking for nearly half-an-hour I reached Sopore market. It was already dark and I went towards the village of my friend. After walking further more nearly 5 kilometers I reached to his home. He was waiting outside his village. For my whole journey from Arshid’s home to my friends home I was lost in thoughts- whether he was militant or not?

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