3rd killing in 5 days: J&K teacher, two sons shot
26 December 2002
The Indian Express
Gopalpora: Another massacre — third in five days — and this time a school teacher and his two sons who stayed away from politics and had no enemies. This, as Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed says, may not derail his ‘‘healing touch’’ policy but it’s becoming something difficult to comprehend when wounds are being inflicted daily and death comes easily. The air is thick with fear and villagers talk in whispers. The silence is broken by the wails of an old woman. It’s the same story all over again. A group of militants barged into the house of a school teacher, Mohammad Shafi Wani, separated him and his two sons from the women and then shot them dead. There are three survivors — Wani’s wife, his daughter-in-law and a one-year-old granddaughter. Wani’s wife was not at home and his daughter-in-law is dumbstruck. ‘‘She is in total shock and seems numb,’’ said Khursheed Ahmad, a neighbour. ‘‘All the men of this family have been killed and nobody knows why?’’ Wani’s niece is an eyewitness and reconstructs the incident after getting an assurance that her identity would be kept a secret. ‘‘It was around 7 pm last night. There was no electricity and we were sitting in the kitchen. Zahoor Ahmad (Wani’s elder son) was upstairs as he had a headache. There was a knock at the window. Three gunmen wanted to get in,’’ she recalled. She said two of them spoke in Urdu with Punjabi accent while the third one was Kashmiri. Once in, they called in all the men, bolted the door — after asking the woman to go the adjoining room. ‘‘We heard them pleading. My uncle was asking them why they wanted to kill them. Then there was a burst and we squeezed ourselves into a corner. We heard the gunmen running away and then there was silence. After sometime a neighbour came and opened our door,’’ she said and they then found the three lying in a pool of blood. Wani’s youngest son, Jehangir, 20, was still alive and died of his injuries in the hospital. Wani’s relatives and neighbours are not able to comprehend the reason for this massacre. ‘‘They had nothing to do with any politics. Wani sahib was a government teacher while his elder son, Zahoor, was doing private tuitions. The younger one was still studying. We don’t understand why anybody would want to kill them,’’ said Mohammad Shafi Bhat, a neighbour. While some security force personnel feel the militants have become emboldened because of the government’s pressure on the security forces — like the move to disband the Special Operation Group — others feel the militants are showing their desperation. ‘‘There has been a significant change in the overall situation. The level of alienation has come down drastically,’’ points out the editor of a local Urdu daily. ‘‘The Kashmir story has been hardly making any headlines after the elections which was seen as a credible process and a means to find a solution to the problem internationally. Then the support for violence has also dwindled after September 11, adding to the militants’ frustration.’’ Security agencies say the militant outfits have created frontal groups — which exist only on paper — to take responsibility for civilian killings. Groups like ‘‘Save Kashmir Front’’; ‘‘Al-Jabbar’’; ‘‘Al-Arifeen’’; and ‘‘Al-Munsoorian’’ are the ones, an officer pointed out.