The sky was overcast and so were their faces. They watched glumly while bidding a tearful goodbye to the departed. Separated from each other by the “walls of hatred,” the Muzaffarabad-based relatives of the slain Imtiyaz Chalkoo and Asif Ahmad could have barely held back their urge to storm across the LoC.
The deceased duo, including the other three passengers who died early Thursday, were traversing a gravelled road, en route their village Silikote, last from the this side of Kashmir. Their car skidded off road and plunged into a gorge, crashing to smithereens.
All five hailed from Silikote including its Sarpanch. As word of their death grapevined, hundreds assembled in collective mourning. The commotion, visible from across the LoC, drew onlookers. Just when the families of Imtiyaz and Asif moved to arrange a funeral, a phone call rang out, prompting the delay in burial.
The persons on the other end of phone were relatives of the slain duo residing in Sajiwar, the counterpart of Silikote from the Pakistani side. They insisted that the funeral process be delayed until they reach the spot from where they could witness the last rites happen.
“They wanted to be part of the funeral,” said a mourner who witnessed it happening.
Both Imtiyaz and Asif were teachers. Few hours later when the relatives from across the line arrived, they watched the mourning solemnly from a distance. The earth had been dug out and their bodies shrouded. The time whizzed past and the slain where laid to the rest.
The last village from this side of LoC, the villagers are required to get identity cards from the army manning the fencing which divides Kashmir. “When we leave or enter, we are supposed to register with the army pickets at certain designated points,” a local said.
He added, “if anyone wishes to travel to our area, he/she has to register and give all details to the army personnel.” “It is a matter of security; visitors are asked to detail the purpose of the visit and the amount of time he/she spends there.”
However, on Thursday, as five residents returned home dead, all the gates were opened. “There was no bar,” the local said, “everyone was mourning.”