Early Friday, 12-year-old Yudhveer was woken up by loud voices in his home. He saw his grandmother requesting suspected militants not to take away his father, SPO Kulwant Singh.
“Everyone pleaded, but they did not listen,” says Yudhveer, sitting next to his father’s body outside their house in the afternoon. “I don’t know why they killed him. He never did any wrong.”
Singh (35) was among the three police personnel abducted and killed by suspected militants in South Kashmir’s Shopian district on Friday morning.
At his house in Batgund village, villagers and relatives are grieving. His wife, who has gone to Jammu, has not been told about the incident.
“My son told me he was not working with police anymore,” says Singh’s mother Pushpa Devi. “He was running a shop in Kulgam. If I had known he was with the police, I would have told him to announce his resignation on the internet.” Her family is the only Rajput family in the village, Pushpa tells The Indian Express. “We never left this village because the people were always there for us. I am speechless today. Who will look after the family now?”
She says that two militants entered their home in the morning and asked Singh to go with them. Half-an-hour later, the family was informed that the body had been found in a nearby village.
Opposite Singh’s house is the residence of Firdous Ahmad Kuchey, who was posted at Kakapora railway station as a follower. Parents and relatives had gathered there to mourn the death of Kuchey (28). “They snatched my world from me. They could have warned him. But they killed my innocent son,” says his mother Fatima Begum.
Fatima says her son came home on Thursday to announce his resignation at the mosque on Friday. “He was working in a railway station. How was he a threat to anyone?” she adds.
Kuchey is survived by his parents, wife, two children and three brothers. He joined the police force five years ago.
Meanwhile, the nearby village of Kapren is grieving for Nisar Ahmad Dhobi, a selection grade constable. “I folded my hands and requested them to leave my husband. But they didn’t listen. He was everything to us, we are shattered,” says his wife Rukhsana.
Dhobi (38) is survived by his parents, wife and two children.
At Batgund village, the shops have been closed since morning. Most villagers refuse to talk about the killings openly, but say they are disturbed. “Today’s incident is the result of happenings in South Kashmir — a war between militants and security forces,” says a villager.
As the coffins reach the villages, a pall of gloom descends. No security personnel are visible on the roads leading to the villages.