In the dusty lanes of Hajin village in Sonawari belt, thousands of people were walking in convention. Close to each other, shouting slogans in praise of the martyr – being carried on the shoulders in the front on a stretcher, people were crying their heart out.
He was twenty-year-old, Abid Hamid Mir, a B Com student who had left his home for bread one morning. He returned home that morning, empty and unspoken. Then he vanished only to return after 86 days; slain, bullet riddled body draped in green flag.
The last time, the villagers remember, a militant was killed in the same belt, was on Agust 28, 1995. He was Abdul Qayoom Parray, a Hizb ul Mujahideen militant.
Since then no one in the belt, unlike other parts of valley, again picked up gun against government. After 22 years, Hajin had funeral prayers of a militant.
Why Mir’s killing is not ordinary is that the area he belongs to was the capital of counter-insurgency. The Ikhwan cult that had Kukka Parray, Javed Shah and many others as its leaders, would operate from this belt. This cult is mainly credited for decimating militancy in Kashmir and paving way for elections in 1996.
What Ikhwan did is part of Kashmir’s folklore and shall remain for ever. From murders in broad day light to crimes like rape, kidnappings and extortion – it was all being done from Hajin.
The belt remained silent even after recent spurt in militancy in south Kashmir. The young men in south were flaunting guns while posing for photographs and selfies. It changed course of Kashmir.
“But in the Hajin belt little seemed to be changing,” said Sajad Gul a college going student from the village. “There was still fear that Ikhwan enjoys power, still.”
As Abid vanished from home his parents started looking for him, only to know that his friend, Nasrullah Parrey is also missing. Police made it clear to them that he has joined militancy. However, they were hopeful that they might return, a family member said. His family said their son was very concerned over the massive use of pellets and force against the civilians.
A bright student he got his primary education from town’s Army Goodwill School and later joined central school, Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Shahkoot in Uri.
Abid wanted to open his own business. “After securing 83 percent marks in 12th standard, that is why he opted to commerce subject,” said a close friend of Abid.
From childhood he was of rebellious nature, his relatives said. In one of such rebellious acts he, in 2012 unfurled a Pakistani flag in school in Baramulla that led to his rustication.
Abid had turned religious. “He wanted to undo the image of our area. He once told me that whenever I tell anyone about my address he mocks me as Ikhwani,” said his friend.
The locals find that the two friends joined possibly after Lashker militants delivered sermons during congressional Friday prayers in previous months in Hajin. As Abid became first local militant slain in last two decades, his friend Nasrullah Parrey is still active.
Abid has turned Hajin into new fray. “On the day of his funeral the scenes in the village were like of south-Kashmir”—where gunfights have became a norm.
Police officials said that, Abu Zargaam, LeT’s commander is active in the area and it seems he is attempting to recruit youth.
Is Sonawari changing again?
– Aakash Hassan