Kashmir youth mowed down: ‘she keeps asking about video but we can’t show her’

Adil’s mother being comforted outside her house in Srinagar. (Photo: Syed Shahriyar)

 

Misra has made several requests to watch a video. She wants to ‘witness the killing of her son’. Moving images of her son, Adil Ahmad Yadoo, being mowed down by a Jammu and Kashmir police van, while he took part in an anti-government protest, have been seen by some of her family members, but not her. “She keeps asking about the video, but we can’t show her,” Arif Ahmad Yadoo, her eldest son, says.

In her mid forties, Misra suffers from Cardiomyopathy, a medical condition described as a ‘disease in which the heart muscle becomes weakened, stretched, or has another structural problem’. A medical journal records that ‘most people suffering from the disease have heart failure’. “She has a weak heart, she won’t be able to see it. She will die of shock,” Arif tells Kashmir Dispatch while sitting outside his home in Srinagar’s Gaes Mahhle.

“When she asks, we tell her we have deleted the video,” he says as his fingers scrutinize the gallery section of his phone. His index finger stops at the first frame of a video- a picture of eight armed policemen and an armoured vehicle. For the one-hour Arif spoke to Kashmir Dispatch, he shut and opened the video gallery of his phone seven times.

“Yes, I have seen it, my blood boils,” he tells later. In the video, 20-year-old Arif can be seen running after a police vehicle, and being closely followed by another. The second vehicle is then seen crushing him, as gunshots are heard in the background. Other protesters following close behind are seen lifting him up.

“The driver of the vehicle could have stopped. What could have stones done to an armed vehicle,” Arif laments as he squats outside his makeshift, dilapidated home on the banks of river Jehlum in Safa Kadal.

Adil’s bother, Arif Ahmad Yadoo. (Photo: Syed Shahriyar)

He says on the day Adil was mowed down, he had left his home early morning to get material for stitching bags. “He was a tailor and would stitch embroidered bags. He was our main source of income,” Arif remembers his younger brother who was awaiting results of his matriculation.

“Because of the video, people can see his death is not a road accident. Without video, no one would have believed that he was mowed down intentionally,” Arif who suffers from Hypermetropia says.

While the state government maintains that the “mowing down of the youngster looked deliberate”, the police call it an “accident”, and said it had initiated proceedings against the driver of the vehicle, a bullet-proof bunker on wheels.

On May 6, as protests had erupted against the Chatchbal encounter, not far away from their home, and sounds of teargas had raised alarm, Yadoos had rushed out in search of Adil. “He left at 8 am and I kept waiting for him. I grew anxious and went to the road to look up for him, but no one had seen him. After sometime a neighbour delivered news of his death. I wish I had known what fate had in store, I wouldn’t have allowed him to go out,” Misra, who is in her mid forties, recalls as she sits in a room full of mourners.

Adil Ahmad Yadoo in a file picture.

Adil was shifted to the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital, about 3 kilometers from the site of killing, where doctors declared him ‘dead on arrival’. “When we went to the hospital to collect his body, police beat us up and fired teargas shells at us. The mourners dispersed, but I kept clinging to his body as they kept firing tear smoke shells. I couldn’t breathe and left his body on the road,” Adil’s relative, Ashfaq Ahmad Yadoo, recalls. “There is video of his death, but there is no video of how they (police) treated his lifeless body,” he says.

“Forget about treating the dead with respect, the police made us do rounds for the First Information Report,” Arif interjects. “Seven days after he was ‘martyred’, the police gave us the FIR copy. We had to take elderly people and request the police several times. We are yet to get Adil’s death certificate,” he says.

A screen grab of the 57-second video.