2009 brought hope to a distressed family, 2018 devastation


In the spring of 2007, a tragedy struck Dars in Tulkana village of Sangam after the family head died of illness leaving behind her wife and a young daughter.  
Ghulam Hassan Dar, 65 was the only support of the family consisting his wife- Saja Begum and daughter Firdousa. His death left the family in distress.
With no support from anywhere, the impoverished family relied on divine intervention to make their living.
Two years later, Ajaz Ahmad Pala, 32, an avid cricketer and hardworking carpenter bought some joy to the mother-daughter duo living in a single-storey mud house.
Pala married to Firdousa and moved to their house. His father, Muhamad Sikandar Pala, supported his decision as he took up the responsibility of the family on himself. 
Pala toiled hard and went on to construct a single story concrete house in which the family shifted only a month back.
Even though the couple had no child, they were contented with whatever little they had.
Little did they know their joy would be short-lived.
On Wednesday, misfortune knocked the mother and her daughter when they received the body of Pala who was shot dead by the government forces during protests near his native village at Khudwani, barely few kilometers from his parent’s house at Nawdal-Batpora.
He was hit on his head and succumbed while being shifted to sub district hospital Bijbehara, locals said.
“He had come no less than a messiah to us and despite limited resources he did everything that made us happy.  He treated me as my own mother, so did I took him as my son. My daughter was lucky to have him,” said Saja Begum- his mother-in-law with tears in her eyes.
Begum said: “Ten years back it was me who turned widow, but little did I know my only daughter and lone child will meet the same fate at this young age.”
She said her daughter was born nearly fifteen years after her marriage to Dar.
Firdousa is barely in a position to talk. The death of her husband has turned her life upside down.
“He was everything to me. I can’t imagine life without him,” says Firdousa as she breaks down.
Recalling the fateful day, she said that her husband had left the home for work in the morning and they only came to know about his death when his body reached home at Khudwani.
Pala’s father- Sikandar Pala is trying hard to console his daughter in law and her mother.
“I had handed him over to you. But it is God’s will which ultimately prevails. We all are helpless before Him. So, it is time to be patient and take it as destiny,” he told them. 
Sikandar said that his son was passionate about cricket and had bought laurels to the team he played for.
 “His batting skills were second to none among all his fellow cricketers of the area. He had vast range of strokes and had performed well in the recent tournament match which he played at Meerut, UP,”
“There are now two widows in the home. How would they survive?” the village women lamented.
Besides Pall, two aspiring students in their teens were among the four who were killed on Wednesday.
Among the deceased was Bilal Ahmad Tantray, 17 a student of 10+2 at government higher secondary school Qaimoh who left his maternal home at Hawoora-Mishpora in the early morning.
He treaded some 6 kilometers to reach a bridge across the Vaishaw river- a major tributary of Jhelum , where the protesters had assembled and were making every effort to help the besieged militants escape.
The militants inside were offering tough resistance to the government forces as the gunfight which had begun at 11 PM last night went past the afternoon on Wednesday.
Soon, bullets rained on the protesters from the government forces  who were part of the outer cordon, the locals said.
The protesters ran for safety but before Bilal could run, a bullet pierced his chest as he fell down with blood oozing out, locals said. 
The youth braving bullets somehow managed to take him to nearby sub-district hospital Qaimoh but before doctors would treat him it was too late. Bilal was declared dead on his arrival.
His parents at nearby Kujar village unaware about the incident were left shell-shocked as they received the body of their son amid sobs.
“He (Bilal) was adopted by his maternal home and used to stay with them. He last visited us some 20 days back and thenceforth we only talked on phone,” said his father Nazir Ahmad Tantray.
Outside Tantray’s modest house – a tent has been erected for women mourners thronging their residence.
Her mother- Naseema is in a state of shock and has not uttered a word since she had seen the dead body of his son.
 “He (Bilal) had assured his mother that he would visit her again on Thursday. He lived up to his promise and came home though dead,” said relatives of Tantrays who were desperately trying to console Naseema.
The scene at the house of 14 year old teenager and a 9th standard student Fazil Ahmad Ilahi of Meloora village of Shopian district, some 17 kilometers from Khudwani near to Sangam, is no different.
“Fazil left his home along with three other boys of the village for Khudwani in the morning.
As they reached there, the protests were on near the bridge on Vaishaw river. “The forces fired at the civilians and as two of his friends ran away while he trailed behind,” said one of his relatives.
He said that Fazil was hit by a bullet in his neck and died at sub district hospital Qaimoh.
“I was at relatives house for night and returned home yesterday afternoon only to see the dead body of my son lying in the lap of her mother,” said his father Ghulam Ahmad Alai.
Fazil is survived by his parents, elder brother and three sisters.

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