Three days before twin civilian killings in Sumbul, Manzoor Ahmad Sheikh, 26, a truck driver by profession received a call from an army major stationed at Hajin camp who asked him to check out the damaged outer wall of Army Goodwill School Hajin.
“I checked the damaged wall and made an estimate for repair works and called major back,” Manzoor, who is a resident of Markunadal, Sumabal told Kashmir Life.
Next day at 3 PM army major called Manzoor again and instructed him to meet the man in-charge of the repair works at Safapora camp and inform him about the repairing costs. “We used to call that man in-charge Porter Master,” said Manzoor.
On Saturday Manzoor reached the camp and met the Porter Master. “I told him about the repairing costs and he said, ‘okay we will start work soon’,” said Manzoor. But as Manzoor was about to leave, Porter Master told to stay as he might have to go to Sonamarg with a truck load of supplies. Manzoor owns a tipper and had worked with the army previously.
“There were five other drivers who were waiting inside the camp with their mini trucks (3 Tata mobile mini trucks and 2 Tata 407 make trucks) to go to Sonamarg,” said Manzoor.
At around 11 PM, army men climbed into the back of the five mini trucks and covered themselves up with tarpaulin. “Then they ordered me to climb into one of the mini trucks as spare driver,” said Manzoor.
Then the trucks sped into the darkness of the night towards Markundal village in Sumbul. “As we reached Markundal, army men jumped out of the truck and spread into the village quickly. We were ordered to stay in the vehicles. They ran from one house to another leaving behind a trial of noise,” said Manzoor.
Manzoor, who is himself a resident of Markundal village, heard people coming out of their houses shouting, choer ha choer ha (thief, thief) from some distance. Within few minutes Manzoor heard some gunshots fired in the distance which rang through the stillness of the night. “Someone in the distance was shouting Irfan, Irfan. My heart almost stopped beating as I knew something bad has happened,” said Maznoor.
Within moments army men came running towards the vehicle Manzoor was sitting inside. “He told the driver to move the vehicle as they are leaving. There was hue and cry everywhere but I was not sure what has happened,” said Manzoor. “Upon hearing the cries (of Irfan’s family) people started coming out of their houses. Army men quickly jumped into the vehicles and fired some shots in the air and left,” said Manzoor.
“From Markundal we drove straight to the Safapora camp. None of us was allowed to go home till 1 PM the next day i.e. Sunday,” said Manzoor.
While leaving the Murkundal he was spotted by some locals who thought Manzoor too is involved in the killing. Manzoor didn’t go to his home as he feared for his life. “I feel guilty for being there and doing nothing to save my villagers,” said Manzoor.