June 2018 News

12 Year Old Shot And Killed In Kashmir, Ceasefire Ends

17 June 2018
Sagrika Kissu

Pulwama: Wikas Ahmad Rather, 12, was eagerly waiting for Eid so that he could flaunt his new clothes in front of his friends. Little did he know that Eid celebrations will turn into his funeral procession. On the evening of 15 June, Wikas stepped out of his house to never return. He was allegedly killed amidst a clash between security forces and a group of protestors in Nowpora village of Pulwama district, Kashmir. A girl identified as Ruqaya Jaan was also injured as the bullet hit her left thigh while she was peeking through the gate of her house. For the Pulwama district, the Eid was a day to mourn the death of a young boy. Notably, this is the first civilian death in firing by the security forces after the suspension of operations in the month of Ramzan. 'Wikas belonged to a poor family. On Sundays, he would work as a labourer in neighbourhood houses to earn some money. He had been collecting money to buy new clothes for Eid. He was really excited but then this happened,' said Altaf, cousin brother of Wikas. Conflicting reports have emerged after the incident. While the army has maintained that they were trying to clear the road obstructed by cars when youth pelted stones at them, the villagers have completely denied the allegations of stone pelting but of army raiding one of the houses in the village. Speaking to Newsclick, Senior superintendent of Police (SSP), Pulwama, Mohammad Aslam Choudhary said, 'We are investigating into the matter. What we have been told by the Army is that they were trying to clear the road when youth pelted stones. Thats when they had to retaliate. No local has come to file any complaint as of now' But the locals had a different story to tell. 'Our child had gone out to buy bread for Iftar when he was killed. There was no stone in his hand. He didn't throw any stone,'said the aunt of deceased, Shamima Begum, while adding that the army has been on patrol in their village since last four days. 'The army has been on patrol. They even barged in the house of one of our neighbours and beat them up. Why were they patrolling? What had happened here? We need an answer,' she added. Locals alleged that the family of militant Abid Manzoor (Saju Magray) was continuously being harassed and beaten up for 4 days. 'A day before Eid, on 15th June, the army came twice to beat us. The third time they came, the villagers came out to protest. This is when they opened fire on the protestors. There was no stone pelting,' claimed Mohammad Ramzan, grandfather of Abid. Abid Manzoor had joined militancy in the year 2016. 'Why are they beating us? Who wants their son to join militancy? We have convinced our son to give up militancy twice. Despite that he joined the third time. Now he intimidates us. We have two sons, of which one is partially blind. They are compelling our other sons to join militancy by beating their parents in front of them,' added Ramzan. A local shouted from behind, 'who can see his father being humiliated and mother beaten up? They are compelling our youth to pick up guns.' Meanwhile, the funeral procession of the Wikas had started after Eid prayers with the crowd nearly of thousands shouting Azaadi Slogans. Women were crying and beating their chest. Large number of men had gathered inside the mosque where the dead body of Wikas was perched on the dais to offer last glimpse to the crowd. Hundreds of women were peeking through the gates of mosque to catch sight of the deceased. Half an hour, a gun was raised in the air by an armed militant, Aqib Ahmad from Bathmoor village. As he left, women showered blessing upon the militant and boys ran after his car. The funeral was also attended by militant Abid Manzoor( the one whose family alleged that the army had beaten them) who kissed the head of the deceased and shot bullets in the air, gun salute, while shouting slogans for Azadi. The cycle of violence continues, with Wikas and Shujaat Bukhari its latest victims. This today is the tragedy of Kashmir.