A paramedic working in old city’s Gousia Hospital was found hanged in his own clinic at Babademb in the first week of April. The death which appeared a case of suicide for scores is being contested by the paramedic’s family as a well-hatched ploy, Bilal Handoo reports
In the forecasted afternoon of April 2, a paramedic from old Srinagar’s Kalashpora left home for his clinic. Those who saw Farooq Ahmad Bhat, 38, that day later recalled that he was cheerful and had no signs of depression on his face. But at around 4.30 pm in the same day, everyone was left shell-shocked when Bhat was found hanged at his clinic located at a stone’s throw from his residence.
As the word of his death spread, locals came rushing inside his clinic. They saw him hanged from the ceiling. His mouth was secreting white froth. His eyes were goggled out. And his tongue was out of his mouth. Everyone was in total fix—as what drove Bhat on such an extreme path.
Soon street gossip followed. Almost everyone believed that Bhat ended his life as he couldn’t pay back his ‘mounted’ loans. “He owes about Rs 60 to Rs 70 lakh to people,” somebody spread in the area. As the rumour snowballed into a talk of the town, the grieved family countered, by saying: “It isn’t a case of suicide! Rather, a well-hatched ploy!”
Ten days after the “mysterious” death of their son, the Bhat house in downtown is still in the grip of deep mourning. Male faces inside the house are sullen, unshaved and parched. The grieved father is relentlessly puffing hookah to give himself a moment of mental relief. Bhat’s siblings are looking shabby—their eyes are laden with big dark cycles. The women folk sitting inside the kitchen are still lamenting over Bhat’s absence. Some momentarily wails and shrieks keep coming from the room.
After some time, the family elder speaks up. “Some people are speculating that my son has committed suicide as he failed to repay his loans,” he says while puffing hookah. He sets gaze outside the window. He looks total lost from his facial expressions. After a while, he resumes: “My son was earning about Rs 70,000 per month. He was running three medical laboratories at his clinic. He had no family pressure, then how come he had loans on his head.” Besides, the elder says that his son was in sound sleep that afternoon at his clinic: “Those who have suicide intentions in their minds can’t have a sound sleep!”
On the fourth day of his death, Bhat family made an announcement through the public addressing system of Khankah shrine nearby: if Farooq Ahmad Bhat owes money to anyone, then he/she should bring it to the family notice.
“But nobody turned up,” continues the elder. “So, there is no base behind all this rumour-mongering—that my son, committed suicide due to mounted loans.”
The elder brother of Bhat was one of first person to reach at the clinic—where Bhat would often take an afternoon nap. He recalls that he saw a thick thread around the neck of his sibling. “There was no stool or support nearby,” he says. “In case, he did commit a suicide, then how come he hanged himself without any support? Look, we are not saying that it is essentially a case of murder. But then, there should have been an ominous signs on the spot, suggesting that yes, it is a case of suicide.”
Cops at Khanyar police station are presently investigating the case. The family has been assured all the help by them. With post-mortem report yet to show up, the fact finding of real cause of Bhat’s death will take some time. The family says that staff at Ranbaxy laboratory ran by Bhat has been questioned by cops. Their statements will be incorporated in the final report.
A few years ago, Bhat started his three medical laboratories at his clinic in Babademb area in Srinagar’s Khanyar locality. The clinic soon shot to prominence—as he was able to pull certain best medicos of the town there. So, is there any market rivalry involved? “Nothing can be ruled out till the police report shows up,” Bhat’s father says.
Bhat was also working as a paramedic at nearby Gousia Hospital. He would usually work during night shifts. His friends and colleagues are recalling that he was happy-go-lucky fellow who was full of life. “He was helpful to everyone,” says Mushtaq Ahmad, his friend. “I myself have doubts that he would have taken such an extreme step—as, the very idea of death would instil a sense of dread in him.”
As the death tangle is being investigated at a moment, Bhat’s two and a half month old daughter has already been declared an orphan. His widow is in deep shock. She lost him 12 months after they had tied marital knots. It was his second marriage. His first marriage ended on sour note two years ago.
Recently, he had booked an order for a car for his second wife. But now, he has left himself for the journey of no return! Ten days after her husband’s death, she still wears wooden looks on her face.
But she isn’t a lone mourner inside Bhat house. Everyone is in the same state of mind. Police investigation will take some time before furnishing the facts. “But how does it matter,” says Bhat’s younger sibling. “The police report might conclude anything, but the fact of matter is: our loss is beyond any repairs now!”