SRINAGAR, Mar 24: A career in Army as a soldier has been frowned upon for most of the past 20 years in Kashmir but the times seem to be changing now as was evident from the scenes witnessed at the funeral of Kashmiri soldier Shabir Ahmad Malik in Wakura area of Ganderbal district.
Malik, a para-trooper in the Army, laid down his life fighting a large number of militants who had infiltrated into this side of Line of Control in Chowkibal area of Kupwara district on March 20.
It was not only the Malik family who were mourning the loss of their 22-year-old son but the eyes of entire Wakura village were moist as they raised slogans in praise of the martyr and India.
Long Live Shabir and Hindustan Zindabad slogans rendered the air around Wakura as many youth vowed to follow the footsteps of Malik. According to official estimates, more than 5000 people attended the funeral prayers of the Army soldier.
Such scenes have been repeated across Kashmir valley hundreds, if not thousands of times, over the past two decades but the tears were shed for militants who were killed in encounters with security forces and slogans were against India.
“We are proud of what he has done but at the same time we are saddened by his loss,” Ghulam Mohammad Malik, Shabir’s brother, told reporters soon after laying him to rest at Dab-Wakura graveyard.
His mother is barely able to talk as she still is in disbelief that her son is no more. “I was with him at the passing out parade and he used to call me three times a day. Now, who will call me,” Raja Begum said as she broke into wails and cries for her beloved son.
Shabir’s father was inconsolable. “When he joined the Army, he told me that our days of poverty are gone and that he will take care of my treatment. His promise was so shortlived,” Ghulam Hassan Malik said.
Even the neighbours were deeply struck by the grief as they recalled the helpful and soft spoken local boy. “Generally, people get airs when they get authority … he had no such airs. He was the same local lad even after joining the Army that he used to be when he was as a growing teenager,” Abdul Ahad, one of the mourners, said.
Malik had studied upto 12th standard from the prestigious Sainik School Manasbal and joined Army soon after.
Excelsior Special Correspondent