Idrees Ali

A mother’s last journey with her son…

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Ganderbal, Apr 08: April 09, 2017 — the day of parliamentary bi-elections in central Kashmir’s Srinagar Lok Sabha seat – remains etched forever in their memories, haunting and tormenting them. It was on this day they lost their grandson – 22 years old Umar Farooq to the bullets of government forces.

No wonder when this reporter went to see the family in a modest locality of Baroosa in Ganderbal, Umar Farooq’s grandparents were sitting on a veranda of their house, heads tucked down in their knees, with grim faces, talking about ‘good times’ with Umar.

Poor grandfather is not  able to see anything easily. His eyesight diminished since the death of Umar last year, says his son.

“He (Umar) was the sight of my eyes. Since his death I have been living for sake of living, as even my own existence has lost meaning now; he has left us all broken,” murmurs the elderly man.

Umar’s mother too is yet to come to terms with her loss. Narrating the ordeal of the fateful day, she says: “On the election day last year, nobody from our village went to cast vote. It was peaceful day in our village. But around 6 PM, I heard a gun-shot. I become very worried about safety of my two daughters who were in the fields; I was not much worried about my son,” recalls Hafeeza.

And tears in her eyes go on to say all that is yet to be spelled out by her tongue… “Then, someone came and told me that Umar was hit by bullet… I ran wildly towards the main road and saw Umar being taken to the hospital. I stopped them and  jumped into the vehicle and I found my son drenched in blood. I took him in my lap and when we reached District Hospital Ganderbal, doctors  asked us to immediately take him to SKIMS.”

By now unable to control his emotions, Farooq Ahmad Ganie, father of Umar chips in: “He was never involved in any kind of stone pelting. He was playing with his friends near the highway. Few BSF vehicles were passing on and they suddenly stopped and fired at boys, and my son and another boy from Kulgam were hit. The boy from Kulgam later succumbed to injuries.”

Hafeeza continues, “I was broken, but still I gathered courage to try and encourage my son that he will be alright – ‘Khudai Kar’e Sotui Theek (Have faith, God willing you will be alright)… I repeated this hundred times on  way to SKIMS.

“Last and the only word he spoke was ‘water’. His tears were falling on my knees and I was sinking.

“As we reached SKIMS within ten minutes, neighbours and relatives accompanying us started wailing, but they did not tell me anything. They did not tell me that Umar was no more…

“They asked me to go home, and that Umar will be shifted to another hospital for treatment. While returning home, I finally realised that my son is no more. Everything stopped for me, I felt unconscious and after many days when I came to senses, my world had changed forever….,” recalls the mother.

“Umar was only bread-earner for his family. He drove a tipper truck. He has left behind ailing mother, disabled father and two unmarried sisters,” says his uncle.

A case was registered by police at that time, but since then nothing has happened. “We have lost hope of any justice,” says the family.

On the first death anniversary of Umar Farooq, people of Baroosa village say they will be holding a peaceful sit-in to remember Umar.

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