Srinagar: With the onset of summer in Kashmir, like thousands of nomadic Bakarwals who along with their livestock have begun their annual journey to the Valley from the Pir Panjal mountain range, Mohammad Iqbal Kalas, a nomad along with his family, was also on way to Kashmir from Rajouri but before reaching the destination, Iqbal lost the journey of his life in the midway.
While crossing the mountains of Kashmir, Iqbal’s family along with others reached the hills of Bandipora district recently and chose a place Kachi Behak (meadow) in the forest where they wanted to stay for a few days like every year.
“Following the next day the people from a nearby village came there and told us to leave, as the land belongs to them but we refused to flee, ” Shafeeqa an elderly lady from Rajouri, said.
Shafeeqa said that “as we were just refusing to leave the place, the locals started throwing stones at us, one of the stones hit Iqbal on his head and he died, about eight other were injured.”
“Despite killing our colleague, the locals were throwing stones at us and telling us to leave the place. We left all the livestock there and picked up the body and started coming down the hill,” Mohammad Bashir Jatla said, adding that they took the body to the local police station.
Bashir said that due to Iqbal’s murder, their this year’s journey of Kashmir has come to an end and they have no idea where they are going in the meantime.
“We are helpless in the middle of the road and our journey is over, ” he said. “We need justice. Please put the culprits behind bars who killed my friend. I will never forget him as he was coming to Kashmir with me while migrating every year.”
“Now, it will be very difficult for us to take the body to Rajouri. We will bury the body here as we are looking for a place somewhere. We have relatives in Kangan. Maybe the body will be buried there,” Mustafa another nomad said.
Meanwhile, a senior police officer said that the nomad was killed while two others including a girl were injured during a scuffle over the erection of a tent between locals and nomads at Kachi Behak near Vewan Village.
He said that a case under relevant section of laws has been registered and further investigation is on.
“We also sent a police team to the spot while after the legal medical formalities the body was handed over to the relatives of the deceased,” he said