Dateline Botengo: Zahid’s Last Journey

Zahid was young. Eight days after he lost battle for life in New Delhi’ Safdarjung hospital, ruling coalition partner PDP’s ‘annoyed’ MP, Tariq H Karra, says it was because of his Jawaani (youth) that Zahid fought severe burn injuries (over 70 %) for over a week. As phone calls from Indian capital city started ringing down South, a spontaneous anger started brewing and shops shuttered down in Islamabad parts with youth and forces engaging in clashes. Kashmir Life photo chief, Bilal Bahadur, drove from Srinagar to record Zahid Rasool Bhat’s last journey home. “My mother is waiting for me,” were Zahid’s last words told to his relatives

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In the intervening night of 09/10 October, a Kashmiri truck with three persons on-board was attacked by communal Hindu mob. The three Kashmiris including Zahid and Shokwat were attacked with petrol bombs.

Police use teargas smoke to disperse protestors as Kashmiri Muslim villagers gather near the house of Zahid Ahmed before his body arrived at Batango village, south of Srinagar, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015. Zahid, who was injured in the October 9 fire-bomb attack on a truck in Udhampur died at a safdar Jung hospital in New Delhi early on Sunday. PHOTO BY BILAL BAHADUR
Police use teargas smoke to disperse protestors as Kashmiri Muslim villagers gather near the house of Zahid Ahmed before his body arrived at Batengo village of Islamabad distrcit.

The trio Kashmiri were sleeping when the murderous sudden attack happened. They were taken aback. De-boarded from the truck, the right-wing mob set the truck afire. The truck was on way Kashmir from Delhi.

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Severe clashes broke between youth and forces following news of Zahid’s death.

Rameez Bhat – the third person who was driving the truck – managed to escape unhurt after goons set his truck on fire. He still doesn’t believe he is alive. In New Delhi, they had loaded truck with coal and left for our home. Zahid Rasool Bhat and Showkat Dar from Rameez’s neighbouring Wuranhal hamlet, accompanied them.

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It was around 12 in the intervening night of 09/10 Oct when the tri reached Udhampur and decided to halt for the night at Shivpur. As they fell asleep, a group of people vigorously started knocking the right and left windows of the truck.

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Stones started hitting truck from every side. Suddenly the front windshield was smashed and a petrol bomb landed inside the truck. The coal loaded caught fire and in a bid to save their lives, Zahid, Rameez and Showkat jumped out of the truck. The goons who were standing at a distance chased Showkat and Zahid, however, Rameez says, he took advantage of darkness and hid himself few metres away under a truck.

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After Zahid and Showkat suffered severe burn injuries, the duo were airlifted to New Delhi where they were under supervision in the Intensive Care Unit. Zahid breathed his last Sunday forenoon.

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Separatists and traders called for a complete shutdown on Monday against the killing. While PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, Dr Haseeb A Drabu and Basharat Bukhari received the coffin of Zahid Rasool Bhat at Srinagar airport today afternoon before ebing driven to Botengo in South Kashmir’s Bijbehera area.

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