Seven-year-old Jasjeet ran around playing with a toy gun in the tent set up in the lawn of his Srinagar home as relatives and friends gathered to mourn the killing of his mother Supinder Kaur. His elder sister Jasleen sat next to her grandfather, discussing her mother’s death.
For mourners at Supinder’s residence, the news of the 46-year-old school principal’s killing by suspected militants on Thursday came as a shock.
“I still can’t believe this has happened. The manner in which she has been killed. She was an educator and cared for all of our children, helped with tutors and encouraged them,” said Kausar, a neighbour, who teaches at a government school.
A grieving relative of Deepak Chand, a school teacher hailing from Jammu who was shot along with Supinder, said, “His only fault was that he had gone there [Kashmir] to impart education to the children of local Kashmiris.”
Supinder and Deepak were cremated on Friday.
Supinder’s cousin Sant Pal Singh, who lowered her body on the funeral pyre, said the killing of a teacher “is a crime against all the people of Kashmir, not just our community”. “Those who kill innocent people have no religion or faith. We are all standing together in our hour of grief and we are here to stay,” he said.
Stating that while minority communities had come under attack in recent days, he said “an incident like this should not occur anywhere or with anyone”. He also spoke of a sense of fear among government employees from the community.
Supinder’s daughter Jasleen, a class 7 student, was the last person to speak to her. “I called her around 10.30 am and told her that my exam went well. She was happy. When I called her again, she didn’t answer,” she said.
“She had such young children, how will I take care of them now,,” said Supinder’s mother-in-law Nisr Kaur.
At Shakti Nagar cremation ground, Deepak was cremated amid anti-Pakistan slogans. Deepak’s wife Anuradha and mother Kanta were inconsolable. “The government could not keep its word of ensuring security to my son,’’ said Kanta. She said she does not want a job, she wants her son back.
The funeral pyre was lit by Deepak’s elder brother Kamal Mehra, who along with his cousins brought his body home from Srinagar.
Before going to school in the morning, Deepak had called his wife on her cellphone. He told her that he has kept navratra fast and will take food after returning to the room in the afternoon, Kamal said.
Earlier in the day, a stream of political leaders, including LG Manoj Sinha and former CMs Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti visited Supinder’s Srinagar home. In the morning, her family members along with over 100 people from the Sikh community, walked to the civil secretariat in protest before taking the body for cremation amid chants of “Inquilab”.
President of Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti, a group of the 808 Kashmiri Pandits who have lived in the Valley through the 1990s, Sanjay Tickoo, claimed that in the intervening night of October 7 and 8, around 70 families left the Valley for Jammu. “It is a matter of personal safety…I could not convince them to stay,” he said.
In Jammu, normal work in courts remained suspended as lawyers abstained following a call by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association.
The Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry along with various trader associations held demonstration against killings. They also demanded the UT Lt Governor and Central government to ensure fool proof security of people especially minorities in Kashmir.
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