Bandipora: Naseer Ahmad Sheikh, 25, a welder by profession, was married eleven months ago and was expecting his first child very soon. On Thursday evening, five minutes before the call for Maghrib prayers, the time when Muslims break the day-long fast of Ramzan, stepped out of the house where he lived on rent in Srinagar’s Rangreth area, to fetch bread. Minutes later, at 8:07pm according to his brother-in-law Muzamil Ahmad, Naseer “breathed his last”. He had been shot in the chest with bullets by troops of the Indian government’s Sahastra Seema Bal (SSB).
The SSB has claimed that Naseer was hit when their troops opened fire on a mob that was attacking them with stones. Naseer’s relatives and his neighbours at Rangreth refute this claim. They say Naseer only stepped out to fetch bread and the SSB troops ‘target fired’ at him with the intention to kill because they were angry that the residents of Rangreth had celebrated Pakistan’s win in a cricket match.
At his native home in Bandipora, a tent has been erected in the courtyard where Naseer’s mother, Rashida, wails and sings dirges for her son. Inside the house, in a corner of a dimly-lit room, his 24-year-old pregnant widow, Zainab, laments, “Who will accompany me to Reban (her parents’ house) now?” Her voice chokes and she breaks into sobs.
Zainab, who is from Reban village of Sopore, said she last saw her husband a month ago. The last time she talked to him on phone was the day he was killed, at 1:30 in the afternoon. “He promised to buy me clothes and gifts on Eid. I did not ask for gifts, but maybe it was because it was the first time he was away from home for so long…,” she said. “My groom has died.”
Outside, in the tent, Rashida continued to sing and wail alternately. She said that Naseer had promised her that he would be home on Eid. “He left on Shab-e-Baraat, never to return,” she said.
Naseer was the second son among three siblings. His younger brother Aamir is a Class 12 student and the elder, Abid, is still looking for work. Naseer’s father is a retired employee of the government’s agriculture department.
Amid pro-freedom and anti-India slogans, Naseer was laid to rest in the local martyrs’ graveyard early Friday morning. Hundreds of people attended his funeral prayers while women marched with his funeral procession, singing eulogies.
Before he began working at an angled-iron factory in Rangreth two months ago, Naseer was working as a daily-wage labourer in Bandipora.