And the bride departed..brutally...
Cutting through the congested locality in Batamaloo Srinagar, a narrow lane makes its way to Fancy’s jan’s three roomed house. Sitting barefoot in the courtyard is her labourer father Abdul Rahim Khan. Rahim’s face is expressionless, his eyes frozen and fixed at the guest room. He lays there as still as picture.
Inside the guest room, shanu’s cries echo against the bare walls. A white netted curtain nailed to the only concrete wall stands witness to the deadly incident that took away a life and many dreams that were woven and interwowen in this room. It is this room where shanu lost her sister and 23 year old fancy jan, her life when a bullet fired by a policeman pierced through fancy’s chest on Tuesday, july 6 2010.
23 year old fancy jan is the first and the only women that was killed in the ongoing strife in kashmir that consumed more than 15 lives since june 10. Fancy was one among the four people killed in police firing in srinagar on july 6.
“do poor brides leave this way my daughter, did you renovate this room only for your death, it is full of your dear ones, where are you hiding my bride,” khateeja, fancy’s mother joins amid cries.
Fancy was born to a poor parents who couldn't sent her to school. she did aari(embriodery) work in a neighbourhood house along with her two elder sisters since the age of 10. Some years back Rahim, her labourer father managed to get his eldest daughter zamrooda married when his yougest child and only son Muzaffar went out to earn by riding an auto rikshaw.
It was this year, just couple of months back when the family recieved some marriage proposals for fancy and her sister.Though the family welcomed the proposals fancy’s desired of renovating their house first, “she took the responsibility of renovation on herself, got the outer wall dismantled so that the house looks good from outside, replaced two small windows of the room with this big one,she hated people pitying on our poverty, she has so many plans for our house and marriage,” says shanu.
What wasn't planned was her death, that intruded in somehow through that newly constructed window and took fancy along with all her fanciful youth and unrealised dreams.
On july 6, fancy woke up to a busy day. Her eldest sister zamrooda rang her on her newly bought cell phone, “ she said didi called up, asked me to come and take kaayim (her 5 year old nephew) along as he was crying and asking for heena ji (as kaayim would call fancy), she did everything quickly so that she could go to her sisters house at kanikadal srinagar,” recalls khateeja.
Fancy took little breakfast, cooked lunch for the family, took a bath and dressed herself in a polka dotted black and orange coloured kameez shalwar. “but when she heard of the fresh clashes against the killing of a batamaloo boy, she said she will not go and went to the neighbours house for aari work,” khateeja adds.
In the workshop fancy listened to Radio, talked about the fresh killings and missed her nephew till her mother called her for lunch somewhere around 2:15pm. Fancy left saying, she will be just back!.
Inside the kitchen of her home Rahim was watching television, khateeja and shanu were dishing up food when fancy joined in. “your eyes have turned red Abba, it is all smoky, let the condition normalise, the first thing we will do is to get window panes for the window,” fancy said to her father, rushed upstairs and soon called her sister for help.
“i entered in this room, we could hear the uproar on main road, fancy was waiting with this netted curtain, she asked me to hold it from below so that she can nail it to the window sill,i held it and her too from back when she cried out, shanu shanu they fired at me, she fell on ground, the curtain was fixed there, i fell on her,” shanu explains while the white netted curtain behind her stands witness.
The family gathered around fancy while their cries invited the attention of the neighbours, “she was still alive, i took her head in my lap and spread hand over her forehead, she looked at me, she was fiddling with her tongue in between her teeth,” says a neighborhood woman.
On the main road outside, people were protesting over the death of Muzaffar Ahmad bhat and fayaz Ahmad the two young men killed in batamaloo the same day. When the family moved out with fancy and headed towards hospital they were chased by beating and aerial firing, “we pleaded them either to kill us or let us take her to hospital, her father unbuttoned his shirt and asked them to fire at him, inturn they beat him, beat my brother and our neighbour who underwent two surgeries since last week,” says khateeja.
Somehow family made it to hospital only to hear that fancy was brought dead, “the doctors confirmed her death due to bullet injury, they are even ready to give their statements but we didn;t ask for any certificate as such, a huge crowd had gathered outside, when such calamity descends who thinks of death certificates and all,” explains fancy’s uncle preferring not to be named.
It triggered massive protests when fancy’s body reached her locality. Instead of letting it stay at her house, the mourners marched towards lal chowk while carrying her dead body, “ we wanted to show our people what do these people mean by stray bullets, how their so called aerial shorts hit innocent people in their chests,” her uncle adds.
The fury was further fuelled when a television channel described cardiac arrest as the cause of death,
“when we saw that the mourning can consume more lives we decided of quick burial but when her death was reported as cardiac arrest we had no option but to go for autopsy,” fancy’s uncle says.
The family has clicked the pictures of her fancy’s bullet injury as a proof. it also claims of having an eye witness account of how police opened a targetted fire on her. the witness they say can even identify the policeman if given chance.
The family is waiting for the autopsy report. Though autopsy, as reported in a local daily has confirmed the bullet injury as the cause of fancy’s death. The report is yet to be released.
Seeing people talking about autopsy report, Rahim breaks silence. His eyes now fixed at the left overs of the renovated house that lie piled in a corner.
“justice is the only thing i can give to my daughter now. Though she had so many demands for this poor father, she didnt let me fulfil one. She would tell me to buy her as many clothes as i can on her wedding if i do not afford any gold ornaments, .” That didnt happen. And fancy left that evening in an ordinary polka dotted suit far away from her dreams and demands.
Fancy’s sister shanu remembers a long chat the two sisters had some days before fancy’s death. They talked fancy about ongoing killings and fancy prayed for the well being of protesting youth, “ we were cursing soldiers that how they were killing our kashmiri boys. I told her kashmiri police is same, it should meet the same fate but she stopped me in the middle, saying they are still our own kashmiris, they can never be that cruel.she never knew they can be,” shanu gives a cynical laugh.
Outide, next to her house lies the place where fancy worked with some dozen of other neighbourhood girls. The floral aari work designs and colourful yarn makes an uneasy contrast with the gloom that hangs inside the workshop.
A group of girls console each other in a corner. Masrat, fancy’s best friend has just been back from the sit in protests that fancy’s neighbours have arranged for the release of her autopsy report, “my not accompanying her to the street would annoy her most, today i sat there like insane, but she will not see me on street waiting for her,” masrat cries.
Masrat’s memories are too big to be lost in forgetfulness, “ "Aakash pe betha huwa likhta hai woh taqdeer", she asked me to sing this song for her that day, "chitti na koi sandesh" would make her cry, she was scared of death.” Masrat says.
“she learnt urdu by listening to radio, she would spent money on her clothes so that she doesnt look illetrate, she hated poverty, recently she bought herself a mobile, couldnt memorise her number, i have never seen her crying, she was best cook.” And Masrat goes on.