SRINAGAR/SOPORE, Jammu and Kashmir — “Thak, thak” — family members of a three-year-old who witnessed his grandfather’s violent death in Kashmir on Wednesday say these are the sounds of gunshots that are stuck in his head.
While he played with his cousins on the stairs of their three storey house in Srinagar, the child’s family’s said that he had told them about Indian paramilitary soldiers telling his grandfather to step out of the car and shooting him in the middle of a gunbattle with suspected militants in the northern town of Sopore.
“He is a child. He has told us what he saw. There is no reason for him to lie or exaggerate,” said Suhail Ahmad Khan, the boy’s 25-year-old uncle, and the son of the man who was killed.
As mourners filled their home on Wednesday, family members said that children should not have to see their loved ones being gunned down. The child’s relatives find themselves at a loss when it comes to consoling him in the aftermath of the violence.
“We don’t want to question the child about his grandfather because this could hurt him even more. When anyone takes his grandfather’s name, he says, ‘Papa ko thak thak kiya,’ said Nida Khan, the child’s aunt. “We also cannot stop him from speaking about what he has seen. He wants to tell everyone.”
Bashir Ahmad Khan, 65, was a civil contractor living with his wife and children in Srinagar.
On Tuesday, the photograph of Khan’s grandson sitting on his dead grandfather’s bloodied chest was widely circulated on social media platforms, triggering a tsunami of outrage.
The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have refuted the family’s allegation that its personnel killed Khan, pinning his death on the militants of the Lashkar-e-Toiba group, who they say were hiding in a mosque near the Model Town Chowk of Sopore and opened fire at paramilitary soldiers on Wednesday.
The CRPF says that three paramilitary troopers were injured and one died in the attack. Khan, they...