‘I cannot forget the face of my mother’, says son of woman killed in cold-blooded murder in Kashmir on Wednesday

Photo Credit: Stand with Kashmir

Srinagar, Indian-Occupied Kashmir

Indian forces killed a 45-year-old, Kousar Riyaz, in Kashmir when she was going to her shop during the dawn time on Wednesday. Kousar was a baker in Srinagar’s Firdous Abad Batamaloo locality where she owned a bakery shop and sold freshly baked bread to residents in the locality. Her son, Aqib Riyaz, 24, saw his mother being killed with a volley of bullets in the darkness.

SWK spoke to him about the tragedy and shock as the family mourn her killing.

Aqib states:

“It was a routine for us. My mother woke up early and made an ablution and offered night prayer (Tahajjud). The time was around 3:30–4am. I don’t remember exactly. We live in Lane Number 9 and our bakery shop is located some distance away near Lane Number 5. Because we have to pass narrow alleys in the locality, we used to go in my Santro car. We left home normally towards the shop where my mother would spend a few hours in the morning to bake bread. Other bakery shops on the way were also open and they had started making bread. Everything seemed normal until we reached some distance near the shop when we spotted army and police.

My mother instructed me to turn back as there seems to be some tension. The moment I turned back, a burst of fire was shot at us which hit the back of the head of my mother killing her on the spot. It felt like a stream of blood flowed in the car. She became silent all of a sudden.

The forces came near me and they forced me to take my mother’s body to the police control room, two policemen accompanied me. Then I was made to sit in the police station and my mother was taken for postmortem. Then they told me to come to the police station Batamaloo where they seized my vehicle which is still with them. They didn’t think for a moment that they killed my mother and they were taking me from one place to another.

In the morning, there was no warning, no noise and nothing. There was not even any army vehicle. Any civil vehicle can travel at that time. Does that mean they will kill anyone? I have one younger brother. I got married two weeks ago and I still have henna on my finger that my mother applied. I don’t know what to do and how to behave. I am in shock; this will haunt me forever. We had just shifted to the new home a month ago before my marriage.

I don’t know whom to ask questions and who will answer us. The forces behaved as if nothing happened. In turn, they made us to struggle for the body of my mother for the whole day. We kept on pleading them to give us the body but they were refusing giving the excuse of pandemic. In the evening, they took undertaking of 25 people in the locality that there should be no law and order problem if they allow us to offer the funeral. It was the condition after which we were given the body.

Just imagine, our family member was killed and still we had to give the undertaking to offer her funeral. The family wanted to get the final glimpse of her which forced us to give the undertaking. How will I come to terms with this reality. The burst of fire didn’t even give her time to express her pain. She fell silent altogether. We only kept the dead body at home for ten minutes because the bleeding was not stopping, then we wrapped a polythene around the body to stop it. Even in her grave the blood kept on flowing.

She was a beautiful woman who filled our lives with joy and she had so many dreams for us, for our new home. I do not know what to do now.

We do not want any investigation or expect any justice. We only hope for justice from God. This is not the first incident and this will not be the last. This is going on every day, one day in Sopore and today. We had to beg for a dead body. Tell me what can we expect? My mother is a figure in all the bloodshed that takes place in Kashmir every day.

I cannot even explain, how would any son feel when his mother is killed in front of his eyes. I am still shivering inside. I am fortunate to be alive, they could have dubbed me as a militant and killed me, too. I cannot forget the face of my mother.”

Relatives of Kousar Jan mourning during her funeral in Srinagar. Photo by: Umar Ganie (Twitter)

SWK is a Kashmiri diaspora-led international solidarity movement that seeks to end the Indian occupation and support the right to self-determination.