Fled Terror-hit Valley, But Death Caught Up

14 September 2008
The Times Of India

New Delhi: What they had been averting for the past 10 years by leaving the insurgency-hit Kashmir valley finally brought about their end in the relatively safe terrain of the Capital. Brothers Farooq Ahmed (28) and Qasim Ahmed (25) were happy working as rickshaw-pullers at the Ghaffar Market. But militancy came back to haunt them when a bomb exploded in the bustling market on Saturday evening. While Qasim died in the explosion, his elder brother Farooq is battling for life at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital. Qasim is survived by wife Sharifa and a nine-month-old daughter, who are in Srinagar. Farooq is also married with three children. Their nephew Ashraf (21) was lucky to survive as he had just stepped inside a shop to collect bills for the goods that the brothers were supposed to transport. Ashraf said: 'After the blast there was smoke and broken glass pieces were strewn all over. When I finally saw the body of my uncles I couldn't react at first. Some people helped me take the bodies to hospital.' Unable to come to terms with the tragedy, a teary-eyed Ashraf simply wanted to claim his uncle's body from Lady Hardinge Medical College (LHMC) to take it back to Anantnag in Kashmir for last rites. Complaining of indifference, he said: 'I have been shuttling between RML and LHMC since last night. But no one will help me claim the body from the mortuary. I have no mode of transport to take the body back to my hometown.' But shopkeepers from Ghaffar Market came forward in his hour of need. They have collected money to help Ashraf with the transportation costs. Said Satish Gupta, a shopkeeper from the market: 'We have started raising funds. While we have managed to collect Rs 5,000, the cost of transportation is Rs 25,000. The government should come forward to help families of the blast victims as they don't know where to look for assistance.' Farooq, who sustained serious head injuries, was to return to the Valley for a few months on Sunday and Qasim was supposed to go back for Diwali. They lived near Jhandewalan. Their neighbour, Mohammed Shafi Vani, said: 'We all had come from the Valley to escape terrorism but it seems to be following us.' Qasim's body was being taken to Kashmir for burial.