Muhammad Shafi Khan
Shoot, after all,
We are only an inconvenience of a few lakh souls.
So, we go ahead, shoot, blast us to eternity…
Wipe us out from the face of the earth.
You, all of you who swear by the Mahatama…
Shoot, we will stand firm and not move
from our dreams of ‘’freedom’’*, (shoot)
Frontline July, 12th , 2013.
*Last word replaced for Kashmir.
Saidpora is a picturesque village a few miles distant away from Shopian abounding in delicious fruit of apple. Green of Apple orchards in Kashmir’s exuberant summer makes Saidpora and its environs and all, its landscape on the foot hills of Peerpanchal, refreshing to the eye. Ornate summer makes Saidpora come alive with activity from dawn to dusk everyday. But on the 11th day of September, 2013 this paradisical village found itself bemoaning, wailing and weeping. A thunder bolt had struck it all of a sudden. Rafique, one of its young men was shot dead. Shot by the forces of Gagren Camp just only after four days of killing of four young civilians by them. Shopian was under curfew to silence the voice of protest . Just a day before on 10th of September, 2013 Rafique had visited his wife Shema at Alyalpora, a hamlet on the outskirts of Shopian. Alas! his last. Little did he know this was going to be his parting word to Shema. His daughter, Aalima , just nine months, had taken ill. Shema, now a woman with shattered dreams, still looking like a girl in teens got married to Mohammad Rafique Rather in 2011, on 26th of May.
But 11th of September was the ill boarding day for the young couple. Rafique had gone to take a look on his orchard.
It was a dead day of curfew for the South Kashmir following the killings on the 7th day of sepotember . otherwise Rafique would be early gone driving the School bus taking school children from Saidpora to dolphin School at Pulwama. Right there in his Orchard his mobile gave a ring. Shema’s voice for him to hear , alas, for the last time. Shema calling: Aalima still ailing, needed to be taken to hospital for treatment. Rafique rushed back to his home to tell his elder sister that he was going to Alyalpora. Shema and he were to go to hospital, their baby was ill. Little did he know he will never see his Aalima. That life will be snuffed out of him. That those killers were waiting out there to kill him , to strike terror in the hearts of the people of shopian.
Rafique reached Memander, another hamlet on the outskirts of Shopian, at a little height from Gagren down below, a slope with steps just fifteen or so to be walked down to touch Gagren. In the afternoon of September 11th Rafique reached top of the slope. Took a look down, said the people who saw him dying, who were there with him. He thought for a while, should he go or not. There were protesters near the camp, raising slogans now and then, anger, outrage, horror over those killings of four innocent young men sending the feelings of everybody at shopian into frenzied grief. Rafique stood on the top thinking, there were people walking around on the road but he was destined to be the chosen one, to be killed. It was not so threatening a situation. It didn’t seem to warrant tear-gassing of people or gun fire from the forces at Gagren camp. It was not of so much of commotion either. Rafique walked down. Some people told him he could go. He could turn left on the road to reach Alyalpora bypassing the main road through the town, which was under curfew. On the road to take the turn, in the range of fire from the camp and the sudden bullet to the head. Rafique was dead. Shema saw him dead at home at Saidpora.
This vicious and wanton murder, malice and hate on the part of those who say Kashmir is a part of India. They want blood of Kashmir to satisfy the collective conscience of India. No one would kill a fellow citizen of his Country, surely not a soldier of the security will shoot an innocent young man “of his own country’’ just at an impulse. They are liars. We are all terrorists. So they killed Rafique, one of us Kashmiris, a terrorist with dreams of hope and freedom. No one can smother a dream.
Educationist and writer, Mohammad Shafi Khan lives in Pinjura, Shopina.