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Kashmir toddler’s photo sitting on grandpa’s body compels UN reaction

Toddler's picture sitting atop his grandfather's body who was shot dead in Sopore on Wednesday, July 01, 2020. It is yet to be established who clicked the picture as no photojournalist was present at the location

Srinagar: A day after images of a toddler in Kashmir sitting next to the dead body of his grandfather went viral, the United Nations too reacted albeit cautiously saying those responsible for the killing of a civilian and a CRPF head constable in Sopore should be held to account.

“We will look into it. Obviously people who were responsible need to be brought to account. But let me look further into it… As anywhere, we encourage people to be, authorities to allow people to demonstrate freely and that they can express their rights to demonstrate,” said Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

On Wednesday, a heart-wrenching image of three-year-old Ayad Jehangir trying to wake up his slain grandfather on a roadside in Sopore summed up the Kashmir tragedy.  

The boy miraculously survived the militant attack on a CRPF patrol at Sopore but his grandfather Bashir Ahmad Khan was not lucky. Khan, a contractor by profession, had gone to Sopore to take stock of the works. 

However, when he reached Model Town, there was an exchange of firing between the militants and forces.  In the incident, a CRPF soldier and Khan were killed, while three soldiers were injured. 

Pictures of Ayad sitting on his grandpa’s body with a soldier taking a position in a nearby alley created a flutter.  

Tears swelled the eyes when a 22-second video of inconsolable Ayad became viral on different social media platforms. In the video, someone whose face is not visible is offering biscuits to the toddler who insists on going home. 

This is the second incident in the last week when children have become the victims of the conflict. Last week a six-year-old boy and CRPF soldier were killed in Bijbhera. Mehaan Yaseen’s father Muhammad Yaseen Bhat survived the attack, but he was not lucky. 

Bhat, a physical education teacher at a school in Bijbehera, had taken Mehaan to the market to buy clothes for him. 

“All of a sudden there was firing. Everybody ran for cover but my son couldn’t. When I looked at him, I saw blood oozing from his right shoulder. He was hit by a bullet. Mehaan was my world, I lost everything today,” Bhat said.  Children have been the biggest casualty of the Kashmir conflict. For the last 30 years, Kashmir has produced an army of orphans. If it was a police officer’s daughter Zohra in 2017, it is Mehaan and Ayad in 2020.