Srinagar: When the slain Khalid Gaffar Malik, 22, left his home located in north Kashmir Trehgam area of Kupwara district, he told his family members that he is leaving to fetch milk from the house of their neighbor.
The sun was about to set in his village and the sky had turned red.
Silence ruled the streets as the Trehgam town observed complete shutdown.
Soon the calmness prevailing over the village broke with the rattle of gunfire.
“It was a routine day,” Khalid’s younger brother Talib Gaffer Malik told The Kashmir Press.
“Nothing was abnormal except the shutdown which was observed in the village following the call by the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) against the civilian killings”.
He said that there were no day long clashes in their area, but the roads, lanes and by-lanes were deserted.
At around 6:00 pm, Talib said shops opened in the town and people were busy in buying vegetables, milk and other daily shopping items.
“At that very moment, the army convoy from the nearby army cantonment appeared near the market as they had to pass through it,” he said.
“We believe they thought youth might stone them. So the trucks leading the convoy resorted to violence beforehand”.
Talib said dozens of youths were thrashed besides the shops were also vandalized by the forces in the main market of Trehgam.
“The barber was about to shave my face when the army resorted to firing. We pulled the shutter down and hid ourselves inside the shop,” he said.
“For a while I thought the encounter had broken out”.
After half an hour, Talib received a call from a friend.
“Where are you Talib? he said told me in a broken voice,” Talib said quoting his friend.
“I replied; I am inside the barber shop”.
“Before I could say something, he said my brother had received bullet injury in the army firing”.
The moment he heard, Talib said he became restless and somehow managed to reach the local hospital.
“But I could not save my brother,” he said.
“The bullets have made a hole in his neck”.
After taking a pause, Talib continued “it was a cold blooded murder”.
“There is no justification for his killing,” he said.
Another eyewitness said that Khalid was about to venture inside the lawn of his neighbour’s house where he had gone to fetch milk when the army officer shot him.
“He fell down in a pool of blood. We rushed to the spot and took him to a nearby hospital. He was then referred to district hospital Kupwara. But when we reached there, he was already dead,” eyewitness said.
Khalid was the middle one among the five siblings.
His two brothers work with the Indian Reserve Police force while one has recently been recruited in the Jammu and Kashmir police.
Being single at his home, Khalid was studying in class 12 and was also running a general store.
The government has ordered an inquiry to probe the killing of Khalid by the army.