Srinagar: The picture showing two year old Aiman and four year old Deeba sitting side by side of the dead-body of their father Ajaz Ahmad, allegedly killed in army firing, went viral on social media.
The picture of Ahmad, draped in green cloth, emblazoned with Arabic scriptures, was so powerful that even hundreds stories would fail to capture the pain inflicted by the interminable conflict on Kashmir families.
Both, Aiman and Deeba looked confused in the picture; apparently, they were yet to understand what was going around them. Why so many people had gathered and were looking at them and the motionless body?
Why was Ahmad killed?
On June 18, as usual, 26-year-old Ahmad of Nowpora village located in South Kashmir’s Kulgam district went with his routine business. He visited his dry fruit shop in the local market.
Before leaving home, Ahmad kissed his two little daughters, Aiman and Deeba and promised that he would buy them chocolates on return.
Ahmad did return home, but in a coffin. His body was riddled with bullets while his clothes were drenched in blood.
The family members of Ahmad said the two sisters sat besides the body since they had no clue that their father was dead.
“They were playing and had no idea that their father was killed by the army,” Ahmad’s father, Bashir Ahmad Bhat told The Kashmir Press.
“When his body was brought home, the girls sat beside him, but were confused to find people around them,” he said.
After his killing and subsequent burial, Bashir said Ahmad’s daughters started searching for him.
“They are too young to understand that a tragedy has befallen them and that they have become orphans,” Bashir said in a broken voice.
Ahmad was killed by the army after he along with many others had protested the continued high handedness of the soldiers in the area, the family said.
“There was no stone pelting or protests in our place. Without any reasons the army snatched mobile phones of people and started beating them. They beat me as well,” Bashir said.
The army had poured into the village after children had burst crackers in front of the army men on Eid, causing anger among them.
“The soldiers accused village elders of instructing children to burst crackers in front of the army. It was an absolute lie. We told army that the kids, as young as six, were doing it on their own as it was an occasion of festival,” Bhat said.
He said apart from beating locals that day, army also vandalized property in the area and beat people just because the kids have burst crackers before them.
“In fact I was slapped a few times. After Aijaz got to know I was beaten, he went straight to the army men and questioned them as to why they beat me. At that very moment, the soldiers snatched his phone which triggered an altercation”.
Following that, Ahmad’s father said the army opened fire.
“A bullet hit my son in his chest. He fell there only. They also opened fire in the air to scare people away,” Bhat said
Bhat maintained that not a single stone was pelted on the army.
“I fail to understand why they resorted to direct firing?” he wondered.
Ahmad was rushed to the hospital after a bullet hit his chest.
However, he was declared brought dead by the hospital authorities.
Being an eldest son of Bashir, Ahmad was married at a young age of 16.
“Mia ous tamah aemis wuch ha maenz nam” (I had a wish to see him married so I got him married him at a young age). Little did I know that I would lose him at such a young age,” Bhat said.
Bashir said his heart tears into pieces whenever his eyes flits towards orphaned daughters of Ahmad.
“I cannot describe what I am going through. I have to shoulder the coffin of my young son. I could not bear to look at his two orphaned daughters who are too young to understand the tragedy,” he said.
Ahmad had studied until 12th class and was the sole breadwinner of the Bhat family.
“I have three daughters and one son. All of them are unemployed. Ahmad was the only one who earned for the family,” the distraught father said.
Apart from his four children, he had to now take care of his son’s orphaned daughters.
“Now I have five daughters and six children in total. Who else will take care of these orphans now?” he lamented.
Apart from shouldering the responsibilities, Bashir said he had to act strong as Ahmad’s wife and mother were inconsolable after his death.
“I cannot even cry. Because if I do so his mother will die, so will his wife,” he said.