While the blue skies were drizzling, fourth consecutive Namaz-e-Jinazah (funeral prayer) was being offered on the Daddoo Hillock.
The “humblest” soul of the village was being bid farewell.
After offering Friday prayer at Marhama, four kilometers down his home, 24-year-old Shahnawaz Ahmad Khatana joined the protest demonstration.
As protestors moved towards Srinagar-Jammu highway, locals said, “security forces intervened and halted the rally by intense tear smoke shelling.”
“The clashes intensified till 3 pm and while forces were chasing the protesters, three youths were cornered and they jumped in Jehlum,” they said.
“We saw them jumping Jhelum and we tried to rescue, but the forces on the other side were firing tear gas shells,” an eyewitness said. “Two of the trio managed to reach safely towards the river bank and people helped them to get out.”
Eyewitnesses alleged that Shahnawaz could have been saved “had the forces allowed the locals to rescue him”. “But they fired indiscriminately,” they said.
While everyone returned home, seven-month-old Shahzad’s father didn’t.
People of his village began searching him all around, they found no clue but gloom.
The news spread Daddoo village on Saturday morning that Shahnawaz, alias Bittu, might have drowned in the waters of Jehlum”.
The locals with the help of sand diggers, after three hours of intense search, found his soaked body.
The breadwinner of Khatana family and father of an infant, was married two years before.
As the body reached to his native village amid hundreds of eyes wet, his infant son was watching, bewildered, in the lap of his uncle.
Among seven siblings, Shahnawaz was elder brother and his three of four sisters have been married. He is survived by his ailing parents, two teenage brothers, sister and now his widow and a son.
Shahnawaz was working as a labourer since he dropped out from his 10th standard exams.
Thousands of people from adjoining areas of Marhama participated in his funeral. Amid high emotions, pro-freedom and anti-Indian slogan, he was laid down in the grave.