It was a hopeful winter day for youth in 2015 in Srinagar, Kashmir as Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, spoke about the welfare of J&K youth, amidst an ordered shut down. The house of Nazirs was filled with laughter and happiness on that day, while the youngest son of the house and apple of his mothers’ eye, Gowhar slept through the banter.
The family had big dreams for this young man, who himself aspired to be an engineer. But Gowhar’s dreams were cut short by his fate that November day when a teargas shell exploded on his head. “He had just gone to get milk for supper and within 15 minutes we were informed about his death,” says Nusrat Nazir, Gowhar’s sister.
The aghast family rushed him to the doctors, but to no use. Another innocent youth had fallen a victim to the CRPF’s violence. When they reached to file a FIR, the police informed them that a FIR was already filled by the police stating that ‘A mob with an intention to kill was confronted by the 44 battalions of CRPF.’
“They mean to say that the mob attacked with bare hands to kill the armed CRPF men!,” asked Nazir Ahmad
However, while official reports state that Gowhar died of a teargas shell, his family refuses to accept this ‘version’. In an interview published in Kashmir’s local online media Gowhar’s uncle, Muhammad Yusuf Dar argues, “Gowhar died when he was hit by a bullet, not by a tear gas shell as was reported. The doctor in the hospital had told us that the bullet is still inside his skull and he was shot on his left side of the head. If one sees the photograph of his face, it becomes quite visible that his face is clear. In case he was hit by a tear shell, then it would have burnt his face which was not in this case.”
With the ongoing conflict, many young men have died such a violent death for just being passersby and bystanders. While for the administration and the armed forces, these deaths are mere reports, the deceased families and friends are left to understand unanswered questions – what’s wrong? Why us?