Conflict

At a home in Brakpora, where hope ended on Eid

A youth of Brakpora left home to offer Eid prayers on June 16 and shortly returned dead on a stretcher. In remembrance, his ailing mother and shattered siblings are singing dirges while seemingly staring at a hard-to-grapple-with future now.

Even as the mourning has turned a week old, the intense cries are continuously emanating from a house in Islamabad’s Brakpora village: “Where is Sheraz Soub? Why didn’t he return from Eid prayers?”

Huddled by mourners, his 65-year-old mother Hanifa Begum is inconsolable. Given her heartbreaking lamentation, it seems, she is yet to fathom the loss of her youngest son Sheraz Dar, 30, who left home to offer the Eid prayers, only to return dead.

Sitting around their mother in a tent packed with mourners, Sheraz’s three sisters are singing dirges for their dead brother, “Where are you Sheraz? Are you preparing for exams in your room? Why are you hiding? Why didn’t you return from Eid prayers? We are yet to celebrate your Mehandiraat?”

Among her three daughters and two sons, the departed was Hanifa’s only unmarried son.

On the eve of Eid, Sheraz woke up before dawn, took a bath, changed his clothes and left to offer morning prayers in the local mosque.

Hanifa (green cloak) with mourners.

On return, he prepared tea for his mother and himself. Before leaving for Eid prayers, Sheraz washed utensils and greeted his elder brother Farooq Dar’s family, who live in the same house.

“Like on every Eid,” says Farooq, breaking down frequently, “Sheraz was getting ready to offer prayers at Islamabad’s Ahli Hadees Eidgah. Keeping the situation in mind, I advised him to offer prayers in the local mosque, but he refused.”

From the main gate, Sheraz returned to take permission from his mother. Before bidding her adieu, he took her prescription card with him to buy medicines for her.

“I told him,” recalls Hanifa, beating her chest in pain and pining, “Gass Khudayas Hawal (Go, may Allah be with you). That was our last conversation.”

Sheraz gave Eidi (a gift given to by elder relatives and family friends as part of Eid celebration) to his nephews and nieces before leaving for prayers.

“He was a loving uncle,” says a tearful Farooq. “He told the kids that he will give them more money on return. His promise remains unfulfilled.”

Farooq Ahmed Dar, Sheeraz’s brother.

After Eid prayers, protests broke out between government forces and civilians outside Eidgah at Ashasjipora, barely three and a half kilometer away from Sheraz’s house.

“Sheraz was hit with multiple pellets and fell unconscious,” says an eye-witness. “We rushed him to the district hospital, Islamabad, where he was declared brought dead.”

The medical records revealed that the cause of his death was pellets.

“He had pellets all over his upper body including the neck, throat, chest, face and abdomen,” said a doctor, wishing not to be named. “On the body examination, we found that the death happened due to pellets.”

But police said Sheraz died because of a grenade blast.

“Preliminary investigation reveals that a Hand Grenade exploded resulting in the death of one Sheraz Ahmad S/O Gh Mohiuddin R/O Brakpora due to splinter injuries and his right hand got fully damaged. Further details are being ascertained,” police said in their initial statement.

“Till now,” a police official told Free Press Kashmir, “we stay with our initial statement. However, the investigation is still going on.”

After his labour father Ghulam Mohi-Ud-Din Dar died six years back, Sheraz had been taking care of his ailing mother.

“Hanifa aunty has serious back problem,” says Asif Dar, Sheraz’s cousin. “She is not able to walk. In March this year, she was admitted for one month in Janglatmandi hospital. It was Sheraz who was taking care of her.”

As his mother’s hope, Sheraz used to cook, wash utensils, clean the home and take care of the cow himself.

Apart from trying his hands on number of government jobs, Sheraz, a Humanities graduate, was indebted in Kisan Credit Card loan to run his small Apple orchard. After Eid, he was planning to spray pesticides to his orchard.

Sheeraz Ahmed Dar.

“Both of us had planned to go for picnic on the 2nd day of Eid,” Asif laments. “He had called me early in the morning on Eid. But I unfortunately missed his call. More than an elder cousin, he was a friend to me. No one will fill his space in my life.”

From the hospital, when his dead body was taken to his maternal home in his neighboring colony, thousands took part in his multiple funerals.

The mother was curiously looking forward to have Eid lunch with him when he returned dead.

“Day before Eid,” says Hanifa, wailing like a baby, “Sheraz who was everything for me bought chicken and cooked it with love. We threw it out later.”

 

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