Ballot, boycott, bullets and finally blood marked April 30, 2014 – the Election Day in Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency. The day till evening was comparatively calm as “huge number” of police and CRPF men were deployed to manage any eventuality.
What happened on a relatively peaceful day? Locals say, as the youth engaged police and CRPF in stone pelting after culmination of polling, “enraged CRPF men fired indiscriminately”. Four bullets pierced the young man Bashir Ahmad Bhat. For friends he was ‘Ovais’ and for kids, he was Bash maam.
Doctors declared him brought dead. Locals alleged that government forces did not allow them to take him to the hospital before “every drop of blood oozed out from his body.” The last words of Bashir were for his mother,” please take me to my mother!”
The tragedy engulfed the area. An eerie silence prevailed as pain of separation was palpable in the air. Restrictions were imposed to maintain “law and order.” There were very few to console the bereaved. Wails, tears, slogans, smoke and shelling marked his funeral.
Bashir was hope for his family, reason to smile for his sisters who are scheduled to get marry this month. For his sisters he was, Bhai raaj.
During the fateful day, Bashir had been busy in repairing the entrance of their house and veranda. Done with it, according to family, he went out to wish some relative on her birthday in a nearby area, only dead to return.
Bashir’s mother, Rafeeqa is inconsolable, “Come, I will apply henna on your hands before you leave us. Come, my son..!”
A “perfectionist”, family says Bashir was a gem. Due to compulsions, Bashir had left his studies at 9th standard. He had started a tailoring shop and would work with Pashmina too. He was equally good at masonary. The family says, “he was not a stone pelter. He was a pious soul.”
Father of Bashir, Muhammad Shafi challenges, “let them prove that my son snatched the rifle,” Shafi says. “Police just spread lies. And they did it after my son’s cold-blooded murder.”
With Bashir, Bhat family’s plans, dreams, happiness and life was buried in the darkness of night in Eidgah-martyrs’ graveyard, where thousands like him fell to bullets.
While others condemned the killing, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah ordered enquiry. Bashir adds to death toll, Omar’s order adds to the number of enquiries.
Bashir left without seeing his sisters in bridal attire next month. And her would-be-bride sisters are shell shocked, as their neighbours say, “the blood spilled over their mehandi.”
– Tasavur Mushtaq