All eyes moist as Palhalan youth laid to rest

Greater Kashmir

Farooq’s killing has shocked every person in this locality. The family is already living in abject poverty and the killing of Farooq has devastated it

Shattered by the killing of their son Farooq Ahmad in police firing here yesterday, the bereaved Bhat family is struggling to come to terms with the tragedy.

As you approach Farooq’s residence here, the shrieks and wails of his relatives are heard some 500 meters away. And as you enter the house, there is nothing that seems to be consoling the bereaved.

“Farooq’s killing has shocked every person in this locality. The family is already living in abject poverty and the killing of Farooq has devastated it,” said Ali Muhammad, who had visited the bereaved family from nearby GoshbughPattan.

 

Inside the house, Farooq’s younger sister is requesting everyone not to enter his room, saying “it will disturb the awards that he has won during his cricketing career.”

 

“My brother has won many awards in cricket.  He was a fast bowler but the speed of bullet that hit him on Monday was more than his bowling speed,” said Maryam, as she broke in tears.

 

Masooda, another unmarried sister of Farooq, wails loudly: “My brother, who will take care of guests who’ll visit our home on my marriage?”

 

Farooq was killed in police firing here on Monday. Cricket, according to his relatives, was his passion.

 

“He had no passion in life except to play good cricket. He was a fast bowler and represented the district on several occasions,” said Muneer Ahmad, captain of the cricket team for which Farooq played.

 

Narrating the sequence of events that led to Farooq’s killing, his friend said at around 3.45 pm, “we saw the cops raiding the area after we finished playing cricket.”

 

“Though minor clashes were going on in the area, the forces started firing from about one-km distance. I saw Farooq ducking and when he lifted his head, several bullets hit him. One bullet hit him on left side of his jaw and I saw some of his teeth lying on ground. Two bullets hit him on his shoulders. He collapsed on the spot in a pool of blood,” said Muneer Ahmad, who was accompanying Farooq at the time of firing.

 

Braving poverty, the slain youth’s father Ghulam Muhammad Bhat left his house on Sunday and was working in a field in nearby village.

 

He said he talked to his son on phone at around 3 pm yesterday. “I told him to return home early and not keep his mother waiting,” Bhat said. “I never knew he would return home dead.”

 

Meanwhile, amid pro-freedom slogans and restrictions imposed by the government, Farooq was laid to rest at the martyrs graveyard here Tuesday.

 

Thousands of people from Palhalan and its adjacent villages participated in his funeral.

 

Though Farooq’s body was handed over to the family on Monday evening, the locals here decided to lay him to rest on Tuesday morning.

 

As the funeral procession began from his residence, thousands of people chanted anti-India and pro-freedom slogans. They carried the body of Farooq to the graveyard while women showered petals on the coffin.

 

Several separatist leaders participated in Farooq’s funeral, with Syed Ali Geelani addressing the gathering on phone.

 

Geelani paid tributes to the people of Palhalan while describing the area as “the land of martyrs.”

 

Meanwhile, intermittent clashes between police and agitated youths continued throughout the day. Police lobbed scores of teargas shells to disperse the protesters. The clashes were on till this report was filed.