October 22: When bullets rained like hell and Bijbehara was bathed in blood

`Lost in the thoughts, something happened and men fell like chopped logs of wood.

Ajaz ul Haque
Srinagar, Publish Date: Oct 21 2017 10:30PM | Updated Date: Oct 22 2017 1:17AM
October 22: When bullets rained like hell and Bijbehara was bathed in bloodFile Photo

Today was the day when hell broke loose at Bijbehara. Men in uniform opened indiscriminate fire at an unarmed procession. Dozens died, scores were maimed. Years past, memories are too ghastly to be drowned in the sea of time. 

It was another massacre in the succession of such massacres. Hyderpora Bye pass, Gow Kadal Chowk, Hawal, Zakura crossing and this one was the next milestone in the journey of bloodshed. Who’s guilty and how? Answering this would be saying the obvious, as killers are known. But what went wrong and why? We get different responses from locals caught in the crossfire. It will turn a plain comment into a professional report. 

Opinions are sharply divided, but on one count there is no split. An innocent, unarmed group of civilians were mercilessly fired at. Where batons could do, cannons were used. Assessing this event on a bigger political scale leaves no doubt about its being an act of terror where killers went unpunished. 

`Could the event have been averted' is the question that haunts survivors. Fate says no, but reason argues why? It’s like avoiding an earthquake or a flood. But here the disaster is man-brought, man-induced, man-engineered. So one can safely hint at some `would have beens’ which if considered might have averted the tragedy. A young boy of the town, (who by now has turned a young man)  shares a story with me. After being blinded by a barrage of bullets, he rues the moment when a few people among them wanted to take the procession on the main road. `We could have stayed home as we had already protested in the interiors of the town. In the absence of military troops we felt safer and more relieved. But after the prayers some were adamant to goad the whole crowd from streets to the highway where, as they thought it will mean more’, he narrates. `After a little scuffle with police the matter, for many would have been settled, but marching with a swarm of humans was fraught with risk as we could not foresee the hell waiting in ambush’. 

The idea was not that bad, but the fate had something sinister in store. Wisdom lay in folding back the swelling crowd. We had already brought ourselves to a precipice, where even a loud sneeze or cough could have trigged doom for us. Beats went louder as the atmosphere was getting scarier every moment. I, and like me many others, thought of moving back, but we feared that might be taken as a `retreat’. 

`Lost in the thoughts, something happened and men fell like chopped logs of wood.

Yes I know those destined to die had to die, but I can’t help but wish to swing the pendulum back. At least I will have the time to advice my martyred friends to stay back and save their lives. But when I open up my eyes, I see a graveyard, buried there lie all I saw alive just a minute before the disaster struck’.

The dead are dead, but they left a lesson for those alive. If ship-wrecks are seen as sea marks, we have a better chance to survive. We must learn the difference between letting the bear lynch us and keeping the bear at bay.