Hilal Ahmad Dar, 24, a resident of Aloosa village in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district, died without breaking his fast. He had been dragged, his lips slashed, wrists broken and his forehead ruptured. Hilal was allegedly killed last year on the intervening night of July 24 and 25 by Army troops, allegedly hand in glove with two local residents of Halmatpora, Aloosa in Bandipora district.
Hilal’s family says he was beaten to death. His 50-year-old father, Ghulam Mohi-ud-din Dar, a mason, and his mother Fatima are yet to come to terms with the loss of their son. They narrate the tragic tale of his death in the right corner of Hilal’s now-abandoned room that is painted with dark green and brown colors.
“It was the month of Ramadan,” says Hilal’s father. “That evening we were working in our farm when Hilal got a call. ‘It is Nazir,’ Hilal told his father after he hung up. “He said he is going to attend an Ijtima (religious congregation) tonight,” recalls his father.
Before leaving home, Hilal’s mother handed him some bread and a bottle of juice to break his fast. The bread and the bottle of juice were later found next to his dead body. “Next day I saw my prince (Hilal) soaked in blood – dead for eight hours,” she says. Ghulam Mohi-ud-din says his son used to participate in religious congregations after finishing his work.
Hilal was the lone breadwinner of his family. He was working in a cement factory on the outskirts of Srinagar. After finishing his class 10th examination, he quit his studies because of financial problems at home. He then went on to earn a living for his family.
Fatima does not believe that her son is dead. “What have you done to me and my family?” Fatima looks above in askance with tears gushing out from her eyes. “My son was murdered in cold blood,” she says. “Army personnel and two locals — Nazir Ahmad Bhat and Ramzan Ahmad Dar — killed him. Yet no action has been taken against the guilty,” she alleges. “My son was killed merely for money,” Fatima says. “The two local people sold him to the Army, and then they killed him to get promotion,” she alleges. “They all know that Hilal was an innocent boy.”
Hilal’s relatives say they were shocked to hear about his death. “It was 8 am. I was heading towards a grocery shop. On the way some policeman asked me the way to Halmatpora. After I reached home, I was shocked to know that Hilal has been killed in Halmatpora,” says Hilal’s relative, Muhammad Hussain Dar.
As the news about Hilal’s killing spread, people started moving towards Halmatpora. “He was brutally beaten to death. Bullets had pierced parts of his body,” recalls Hussain. “When we washed his body before the burial, there were deep red marks and his body parts were fractured and ruptured. He had been interrogated,” says Hussain.
Hilal’s 17-year-old sister Nayeema says they have lost a caring brother in Hilal. “My elder brother was killed under mysterious circumstances,” she says in a protesting voice. “He loved me the most. He would work day and night for her four sisters and two brothers,” she says.
Hilal was supposed to get married in October 2012. “But these murders…,” says Nayeema, pointing towards Aloosa army camp, “they killed him before that day. He had quit his studies for us. He was working and saving money for our marriage,” she says. “Our father is suffering from many ailments. He can’t work like he used to in the past,” says Nayeema. “Now we have nothing, no elder brother to earn for us,” Nayeema says as she breaks down and tears brim her eyes.
Nayeema’s cries fill the room, breaking the suffocating silence that has descended on this home in the absence of Hilal. “Hilal was our family’s lone breadwinner. We have no source of income now. I am getting older and my health is deteriorating,” says Hilal’s father, Ghulam Mohi-ud-din who has to look after six children, among them, four girls. “Why was my son killed? I ask the government,” he says. “Why was he beaten to death? Why haven’t the culprits been brought to justice till now?” he asks.
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