“Why did they kill my little brother? He never hurt anyone,” cried Sangeetha as she embraced the freezer box in which 22-year-old R Thirumani’s body was brought home from Srinagar.
On Monday, Thirumani, who was travelling with his parents to a resort in Gulmarg, was hit on the left of his head by a stone during a protest at Narbal on the outskirts of Srinagar. He was admitted to a hospital where he succumbed to injuries.
Late Tuesday, his body lay on the porch, just outside the front door of their house at Muthapudupet in Avadi, a Chennai suburb. His elder brother Ravikumar stood there silently. He had not accompanied the family on the Kashmir vacation.
All through the journey back from Srinagar, Thirumani’s mother Selvi had not been told that her son had died. She had been injured in the incident, too, and needed stitches on her ear. Today, she cried wordlessly.
Thirumani’s father Rajavel, who works at the Avadi Ordnance Factory, said the incident took place on the third day of their Kashmir tour, soon after they set out for sightseeing in the morning.
“We were 43 of us, all from the same department. We had a vague idea that there was unrest in Kashmir, but we did not expect to be caught in it when the tour was planned some months ago. All I knew was that such things happen once or twice in a month,” he said.
According to Rajavel’s colleagues, the tour was an “LTC package”. “We decided to go there because we wanted to contribute, help their tourism business,” said one of them.
Rajavel said the Tavera in which he and his family were travelling, came to a halt at a place where other vehicles had also stopped. “We were waiting to move, when suddenly the stones started flying.. I was sitting next to the driver and screamed for everyone to duck. That’s how my daughter escaped, she was sitting by the window behind the driver. My son was sitting behind me. He didn’t duck,” he said.
“The left side of his face was completely smashed, his jaw, teeth and nose were broken. There was a huge pool of blood under him. So many strangers came forward to help. They offered money for treatment, gave me their numbers. I am thankful to them. At the hospital, everyone was very helpful, but my son was already gone. They tried their best,” said Rajavel.
“This was the work of a few men gone wild. That is what I told the J&K Chief Minister, too. She asked for my forgiveness. It was good of her to come and see me,” said Rajavel, adding that Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti gave the family Rs 2 lakh. On Tuesday, the Tamil Nadu government announced compensation of Rs 3 lakh.
This young man from Chennai died in my constituency & while I don’t support these goons, their methods or their ideology I’m deeply, deeply sorry that this happened at all & that too in an area I’ve been proud to represent since 2014.
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) May 7, 2018
According to the family, Thirumani, a B.Com graduate, was working with the consultancy major Accenture where his brother, a management graduate, is employed.
Sangeetha works at the travel department of retail firm Spencer. On Tuesday, she was inconsolable. “You never even said goodbye to me, you wanted to eat, you were hungry, but they killed you before anything,” she cried.