For the best experience, open
on your mobile browser or Download our App.

J&K: Shock, Despair in Anantnag After Teenager Killed at Hands of Unknown Gunmen

17-year-old Sahil Bashir confronted two men he thought were robbers. A spontaneous shutdown was observed on Friday in deference to the senseless murder in Watrigam.
Sahil Bashir. Photo: By arrangement

Watrigam, Anantnag (J&K): When Sahil Bashir, 17, pinned the masked assailant on the concrete path in the walled compound of their double-storied home, he screamed at his mother and sister to shut the door.

“He will kill you. Go inside,” Sahil, a Class 11 student, screamed in darkness, holding on to one of the two assailants near the black, iron gate that opens onto the main road in this south Kashmir village.
Moments earlier on Wednesday, October 4, Sahil was sharing the result of a class test with his sister when the screams of their mother downstairs – that two thieves had broken in – hurtled him out of his home.

Once out, Sahil confronted the two surreptitious-looking men, grabbing one of them by the collar. “They were wearing tactical combat vests and from their language, it seemed they were both Kashmiris,” said his sister, who is the eldest among three siblings. Her name is being withheld by The Wire.

“He shouted that the two men had come to commit a robbery but the assailants screamed back, saying they were not thieves,” she added.

As the young woman and her mother watched Sahil scuffle with the assailants, who were seemingly weighing the prospects of getting caught, one of them whipped out a revolver and warned Sahil to let the other go.

“He (Sahil) thrust his hand towards his face and nearly pulled off his mask. Then a shot was fired and a couple of more followed. I didn’t know what to do, except to scream for help. But no one came to our rescue,” Sahil’s sister said, struggling to hold back her tears.

The concrete path where Sahil Bashir confronted the two masked men before one of them shot him lethally. Photo: Jehangir Ali

According to doctors, a bullet bore through Sahil’s spine, in the cervical area, rendering him motionless and in a bloodied state, while the assailants took advantage of the night and disappeared into the dark labyrinths of the night.

In the meantime, as the cries of mother and daughter got shriller and ominous, neighbours assembled at the house. Soaked in blood, Sahil was hauled into a car and rushed to a hospital in Anantnag town. Doctors there referred him to Srinagar’s SKIMS in a critical state, where he breathed his last on Thursday.

In a tweet, the Jammu and Kashmir police said that Sahil was killed in a terror incident, although the identity of the assailants or their affiliations has not been disclosed so far.

The killing has plunged Watrigam and its adjoining villages into gloom, shock and complete disbelief. A spontaneous shutdown was observed on Friday in deference to the senseless murder of a teenager, which has once again raised questions about the government’s claims of normalcy in Kashmir.

At least ten civilians have been killed in Jammu and Kashmir so far this year, while close to a dozen security personnel have lost their lives in attacks by militants. According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, at least 62 militants have also been gunned down in encounters during this period.

At the Dar household, which is located amidst sprawling paddy fields which were recently harvested, aggrieved relatives and neighbours are struggling to make the family come to terms with the reality of losing their youngest son in such a barbaric fashion.

Inconsolable with grief, the loss of his son seems to have choked the voice of Bashir Ahmad Dar, Sahil’s father, who works in J&K’s forest department. Sitting on a mattress in the corner of a room on the second storey of his house, Dar shook hands and exchanged painful glances with visitors who ask him to show forbearance.

A local priest addressing mourners at the residence of the slain Sahil Bashir with this father Bashir Ahmad sitting by his right. Photo: Jehangir Ali

In the compound of the house, a large tent set up for female visitors reverberates with painful dirges. “I will meet you on the day of judgement, my son. I will ask God why you were taken away from me at such a young age, my son,” one woman, perhaps Sahil’s mother, screams.

“How could you muster the courage to shoulder the coffin of your son? The rose of my garden has been vanquished, how could it happen, my son?” another woman cries out as mourners trickle in and out of the tent.

The family of four members is too shocked to weigh questions about the motives of the killers. “He was a child and too innocent to indulge in any kind of illegal acts. If he has committed any wrong, we have a right to know what it was,” said Dar, Sahil’s father.

A relative of the family, wishing anonymity, said: “Their sister had gotten engaged recently. Sahil perhaps feared that the assailants were after the gold ornaments that were gifted to her by her in-laws.”

“We don’t know who killed him,” said his sister. “There was complete darkness and the two men were masked. We don’t know why they killed him. When Sahil caught hold of one of the assailants, the other repeatedly warned him to let him go.”

The 17-year-old youngster, who was enrolled at a government school in the adjoining Brakpora village, perhaps assumed that the assailant was bluffing, even though he had warned his sister and mother to lock themselves inside the home when the scuffle started.

Owais Bashir, elder brother of Sahil Bashir who was killed by unknown gunmen in south Kashmir’s Watrigam village. Photo: Jehangir Ali

But the course of events on that fateful evening could have turned out differently. Minutes before his death, Sahil was stopped by his father from offering evening prayers at the neighbourhood mosque, which is barely a hundred metres from their home.

Instead, Dar asked his son to pray at home and give company to his sister and ailing mother, who were alone. Dar had no idea that the decision was going to cost Sahil his life.

Before finishing prayers, a gunshot unsettled the calm in Watrigam, a predominantly agricultural village located in paddy fields and apple orchards. Bashir’s heart skipped a beat.

As the commotion at the Dar household built up with the cries of mother-daughter duo renting the air, worshippers finished their prayers in a hurry and came out of the mosque in a congregation.
“I ran towards the house to find a crowd of people assembled on the road. Sahil was being taken in a car to the hospital. He was covered in blood. What had he done to deserve this?” Owais Bashir, Sahil’s elder brother said, breaking down into tears.

Make a contribution to Independent Journalism
facebook twitter