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A congested by-lane leads to the house of slain Hizbul Mujahideen militant, Sajad Ahmed Gilkar at Nowhatta in Downtown here. 

Sitting in grief in his modest house, Sajad’s father Nazir Ahmad Gilkar claimed that his son was “framed” in grenade attack and other cases by the police.

“I had never thought even in my wildest dreams that he would join militancy. His last phone call to me will remain as my lifetime surprise,” said Gilkar in a broken tone.

On the fateful day on June 11, Gilkar, a mason was on his routine work at Pampore area of Pulwama. “As the clock ticked 7:50 pm Sajad called me,” he remembered. 

Asked whether he has any regrets over the killing of his son, he said, “Sajad wasn’t the only one. There were other two and there are many who die like him. I have no regrets.”

Recalling his last conversation with his son, Gilkar said the first words he spoke were “Asalamualaikum.”  “It was an unknown number. I replied to his salaam, and then he told me, ‘papa please forgive me as you suffered a lot because of me. I am caught in cordon in a Budgam village. I started shivering after hearing this,” said Nazir. “He asked to give phone to his mother. I told him that I was in Pampore and his mother was at home. Then he went on to say to forgive him and tell same to his mother.  Before snapping the call, he repeated ‘both of you (father and mother) suffered a lot because of me.”

Sajad, according to his father, was born on April 1, 1991. “He was a kid when he started to take part in street protests, I admit, but he paid a huge price for that,” he said amid sobs. “Even I was dragged by forces and taken to police station Nowhatta, despite the fact police knew, I had already been operated after suffering brain haemorrhage.”

Gilkar said he has the FIR copy that shows his son involved in a petrol bomb throwing case at Gade Kocha in Downtown. “That’s the case when my son was not even born,” he said.

He said there is hardly any police station in Downtown where his son wasn’t lodged. “Every time Sajad was booked under PSA, he would be re-arrested. He has served prison in Kotbalwal Jail, Central Jail and in all police stations of Downtown,” said Gilkar. Sajad’s younger brother Murtaza Nazir said, “It was because of the continuous raids on their house that forced Sajad to leave his studies mid-way. He studied till 9th and couldn’t appear in his class 10 exam due to frequent police pressure and raid’s on his house,” he said.

He said frequent arrest of his brother drained their family financially. “We were always supposed to pay mess charges at Kotbalwal and Central Jail. We are thankful to our lawyer, who pleaded my brother’s case time and again without any fee,” Murtaza said while watching the short video of the house, where his brother was killed, in Rudbugh village in Budgam, on his mobile phone.

One of the close relatives of Sajad, sitting in the room, said “he was punished to the extreme for being a stone pelter.”  

“Instead of counseling him, they dealt with him with iron fist and the result is in front of us now,” he said.

Advocate Mir Shafaqat Hussain who fought all the cases of slain Sajad said: “I plead the cases of Kashmiri boys free of cost and I will continue with this approach. I managed to get all three PSAs of Sajad quashed.”