Before the previous dusk would rattle calm air of Dadsara Tral, a word had reached nearby Laribal village that one of their ‘favourite’ sons is among the trio engaged in a fierce gunfight with joint force of army’s RR and SOG of police. One last, yet desperate, attempt was made to drum up the support for the trapped son and his comrades, but…
Such was the intelligence involved that the trio could never come out of the trap—eventually proving their death trap. In between, Tral simmered. In the signature solidarity, villagers started moving toward the cordoned area. But the police—that had earlier shot advisory directing people to stay away from encounter sites—resorted to tear gas shelling to disperse the angry crowd.
Amid the street confrontation, shells and bullets endlessly rained over the residence where the trio were putting up one last battle. For the evening, Dadsara’s Mir Mohalla was different—hauntingly resounding. Amid darkness, forces were attacking the smoke-billowing residence until it turned rubble.
Inside, all three Hizb men—Dadsara’s Asif Mir (alias Abu Muaviya), Charsoo’s Ashiq Bhat (alias Ubaida) and Laribal’s Ishaq Parray (alias Newton)—were lying in a pool of blood.
Fast rewind to March 2015…
Tral’s ‘Newton’ was class of his own, known for his sheer brilliance. In his school, they called him a different tribe. But, recalled his mate who had turned up for his funeral, the situation around him would often make him restless.
“He would often question the insulting life in Tral and elsewhere in Valley under the shadow of gun,” said Ishaq’s inconsolable mate. “But none had an idea that the thought would make him restless and force him to settle the matters of gun with gun itself.” By picking up gun, Tral’s genius only reaffirmed Newton’s Third Law of Motion: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
And with that, began the shift—from the restive calm to the revolting motion. It began, a year ago, when instead of sunshine, snow had draped the valley white. Then, the teenager ‘Newton’ left home to submit his college form. He never returned—until his bullet-ridden body was brought home, 365 days later.
But when he was yet to abandon his home, Ishaq was a ‘role model’ for many in his village after scoring 98.4% in Class 10, ninth position holder in entire Kashmir.
Back home, his room is still packed with books he would once voraciously read. Besides preparing for Common Entrance Test, his “pious” nature had raised hopes in his father, who wanted to see him a “religious scholar”, one day. But the father had no idea that his son would soon become a member of “Burhan group”.
Ishaq joined his ‘idol’ when Kashmir police chief SJM Gillani was busy briefing media that 100 youth had joined militancy in past 18 months—“a bulk of them are from south Kashmir”. The top cop maintained that among 150 active (mostly locals) militants, “80 are active in south Kashmir”.
And then began the small talk in his family and friend circle: “His conviction is behind his rebel.” They argued that the ‘genius’ had understood that the “larger truth” of Kashmir, and its “political reality”.
But whatever the raison d’être behind his rebel nerve, his friends present at his funeral spoke about his tech-savvy acumen. “It was because of him,” says his friend, as if, aware of Ishaq’s guerrilla role, “that Burhan group would be able to detect the army movement in and around Tral, and then act accordingly.”
On Wednesday evening, however, forces and agencies seemingly outsmarted ‘the genius’ by laying cordon in an adjacent village—and “not directly” on Mir Mohalla. Locals argued this—perhaps—made the trio believe that they were relatively safe.
“It was then SOG in civvies showed up in the locality,” said an elder nearby the funeral, “and laid the cordon that unfortunately proved the death trap for the trio.”
For the evening, nothing worked for the desperate villagers. Gunshots did mobilise men, women and children—attempting to march toward the encounter site, pitching pro-freedom slogans besides drumming up support for the trapped militants from mosques. But…
By Thursday morning, Tral was mourning over its sons, once again. Some thousands turned up to bid adieu to Tral’s ‘Newton’. Moments after he was lowered in his grave, the buzz began: What started in March ended in March.