In a region mired in conflict, it takes all the more courage, and perseverance to be the voice of the voiceless and to separate facts from propaganda. Help The Kashmir Monitor sustain so that we continue to be editorially independent. Remember, your contributions, however small they may be, matter to us.

Habibullah leaves behind destitute family of seven

Astanpora (Budgam) Feb 19: “They killed him as if he was a militant,” wails an elderly Mohammad Akbar Dar of Soibugh about the killing of Syed Habibullah, a local.
On the intervening night of February 18-19, Habibullah was shot dead by a sentry at Air Force Station Budgam after he allegedly entered the security zone.
A close relative who, alongside others, had gone to bring the body home from the Police Control Room Srinagar, where it was kept for post-mortem, does not subscribe to the forces’ version that “they fired some warning shots in air” before shooting Habibullah dead.
“They have directly shot at him,” he alleges. “They could have shot his leg.”
Habibullah, as per the relative, used to return home by the evening. However, on Sunday, he did not making the family anxious and looking for him until they got the shocking news.
While the police said that the deceased “appeared to be mentally challenged”, his relatives and neighbours said that the family’s abject poverty had taken a toll on Habibullah’s physical and mental health.
Besides his wife, a resident of West Bengal he married around 25 years ago, Habibullah is survived by five sons and a daughter.
Before he tied the knot with the non-local lady, Habibullah was married to a woman from amongst his relatives. His first marriage had lasted not more than four years, as per a relative.
None of his six children have been to school, except Syed Younis, 25, and Syed Abu Bakr who have matriculated.
Younis, the eldest of his children, said he doesn’t work.
Their modest house is a few hundred metres from Main Chowk Soibugh.
Habibullah used to be a known faith-healer in the area with hundreds of clients.
Things turned bad after his divorce, a relative said.
“Would a mentally-retarded person pray five times a day?” asks a local.
The neighbours said they came to know of his death from Abdul Majid Sheikh, who had learned about the incident and informed them.
The youth questioned the assurances of help to the family.
“How can they help the family? They did not even give us a stretcher for the dead body. They did not provide an ambulance,” an agitated youth argues.