Sursanoo, Yaripora: The mourners gathered inside a makeshift tent in the courtyard of Parry House in Sursanoo in Yaripora village of Kulgam district, 75 kilometres south of Srinagar, as the cries of wailing women resonated in the air.
The "bright boy" of Sursanoo, Lt Ummer Fayaz Parry, an Indian Army officer, who was killed in Harmin village of the neighbouring Shopian district on Tuesday evening, had just been lowered in a grave, with full military honour.
Minutes ago, as the pallbearers carried the dead body of the slain soldiers to a nearby orchard, the mourners talked in whispers about the marks of torture on Ummer's back, his broken jaw, broken ankles and his missing teeth, and the bruises and cuts on his body.
It's the first time that a soldier has been kidnapped and killed from a marriage ceremony in the last 28 years of insurgency in Kashmir
Fayaz Ahamd Parry, Ummer's father, refused to talk to anyone including an army officer who had come to pay condolences. He, along with his brother, had carried the dead body of his son on his shoulders after they found it lying on a roadside in the main chowk of Harmin village of Shopian district on Tuesday around 8.30 pm.
When he was born on 8 June 1994, Ummer’s family had distributed sweets in the neighbourhood. They did it again when he was commissioned in the Indian Army as an officer on 10 December 2016.
Manzoor Ahmad Parry, Ummer’s uncle, guided him throughout his life. A student of the Army Goodwill School in Pahalgam, Ummer loved sports and his uncle encouraged him to choose a different path in life unlike others in his village situated on the edge of Kulgam district. He would purchase tickets for Ummer everytime Ummer would come home — 12 times in the last four years — refusing to avail the subsidised tickets meant for soldiers.
"You are our brave son," Manzoor would often tell Ummer. "He was my son not just my brother's. Now tell me how would I feel when saw his dead body," Manzoor says, as tears trickle down his sunken face.
"After three years in the National Defence Academy (NDA), a year at the Indian Military Academy (IMA) was the most exciting one for him. An army officer was something he wanted to become," he added.
Ummer was posted in Akhnoor area of Jammu when the Kashmir unrest began last year in Kulgam. The family member would often discourage him from visiting home, as the situation deteriorated.
But then the date for the marriage ceremony of his cousin sister was coming close and she would make frantic calls to him, asking on the phone when was he coming back to join her for the biggest day in her life.
"That biggest day turned into a black day in our lives," Tariq Ahmad, Ummer's cousin, said.
He returned home to attend her marriage ceremony ten days ago. She had been calling him for weeks even to his officers because he was the only boy in the immediate family.
On Tuesday at around 6 pm, someone appeared in the house where the marriage was being solemnised in Harmin village. They told this young officer that some of his old friends were waiting outside for him.
"And then at around 8.30 am on Wednesday, we found his dead body with torture marks on his back in Herman Chowk. He was killed is what I know," Manzoor, 40, a fruit businessman tells Firstpost.
"How can a human torture another human in such a way. If you are a Kashmiri serving in the Indian Army does that make you an enemy of your own people? How can anyone justify the killing of my rose," Tariq said inside the makeshift tent erected outside the two-storey house of Parry’s.
More than one thousand people participated in the funeral procession. The mourners chanted slogans against the killing, but in a very low pitch, conscious of the surroundings.
The Kulgam district remained inaccessible to the security forces last year for months. The district has the second highest number of newly joined militants after Pulwama. And the fear is visible even on the face of mourners who have joined the family in their hour of grief.
"He was not just the eyesight of his father but the entire family," Tariq said, adding, “The brutal reality of Kashmir can be best said in the words of a great man who said that the lines in our valley are so clearly drawn now that we know today who will mourn for you and who will mourn for me."
On May 12, Ummer was to report back to his place of posting after spending ten days at home. But instead, he was lowered into a grave.
The festive atmosphere in the family has turned and sombre. Ummer's cousin Tariq says, “His death is a loss not just for us but for the nation as well.”
Updated Date: May 10, 2017 20:02 PM