Shopian man's killing left his 2 widows in dire straits

Shopian man's killing left his 2 widows in dire straits

Suddenly, as the clock struck 9 that night, gunshots rang outside, waking up her 4-year-old son.

On November 30, 2014, six months pregnant Sheeraza was waiting for her husband inside their single-storeyed mud and brick home in Nazneenpora, a small village nestled in apple orchards of Shopian. 

Suddenly, as the clock struck 9 that night, gunshots rang outside, waking up her 4-year-old son. 

The villagers switched their house lights off, making the hamlet a silhouette against the light of the November moon.

A little later, a man from the neighbourhood stormed into Sheeraza’s home and informed that her that husband Mohammd Sultan Bhat, 45, was shot at by some unknown men barely two bends away. 

By the time Sheeraza showed up near the lifeless body of her husband pockmarked with at least eleven bullet holes, his second wife Mehmooda and her brother-in-law were already there.

"We thought we would shift him to hospital and then inform her. As she was pregnant, we did not want to shock her, but he had died on the spot," said Mehmooda.

Bhat was the Sarpanch of his village and had married Sheeraza in 2002 and then took Mehmooda as his second wife a few years later. 

While Sheeraza has two daughters, Mehmooda is mother to three children.

Although Bhat’s wives would live amicably in two separate houses, but after his death their lives turned upside down.

The widows say they have no source of income and live off help regularly extended by the villagers.

Bhat lived off a farm which was washed away during the devastating floods of 2014 leaving him landless.

"We had grown some apple trees in our farm which had begun bearing fruit but it turned waste before our eyes," said Mehmooda, adding it was the only property the widows now owned.

Although government provided some compensation to the family following the floods, it went in constructing a single-storeyd house for Bhat’s second widow.

"The compensation did not match the loss. It was too little to buy a few marlas of farming land," said Mehmooda.

Following Bhat’s killing the widows applied for relief jointly under governmental provisions, but four years later they have received nothing.

Additional Deputy Commisioner for Shopian, Shabir Hussain Bhat told Greater Kashmir the widows’ would soon be provided monitory compensation, as the two families of the slain man grapple with financial troubles.