Militants new mantra in Valley: Kill them young
17 February 2002
JAMMU: ''Aj to baad terey bachey nahin darengey (From today onwards your children will not fear the knock on the doors)," militants told Mithu Ram, killing four of his family members, including two daughters aged eight and 12. These words continue to haunt him even now. Yet another tragic chapter in the life of a father in Jammu and Kashmir., who will mourn his young ones throughout his life. Militants dressed in Pathani suits and speaking in Gojri, eight members of wo Hindu families in Narla village today. Ram's was one of them. In the past two months, the militants has snuffed our lives of 25 children, many of them before their tenth birthday. The number is more than any other year since militancy raised its head in the state.
"The year 2002 seems to have come with a bad omen for children of the state," said a senior security force officer looking at the injured toddlers in hospital. Earlier, in January this year, eight children were killed by Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militants in Mendhar tehsil of Poonch district. They did not even spare a pregnant woman. Before this the militants had opened fire on a child, who in order to save his father a village sarpanch, had clung to him. Sitting outside the trauma ward of the GMC. Hospital in Jammu, Mithu with blood splattered all over his shin, looks at her convalescing three-year-old daughter. Unmindful of the bullet wound on his arm, Mithu tells every passerby: "The militants were right, now onwards my children will never fear the knock on the door. As they are no more to hear that." On one of the beds is another family's story. Papal, a three-year-old girl has been admitted with bullet wounds on her arm and chest. She is still not aware that her mother Shakuntala and two sisters were also killed, while her father sustained serious injuries. The little girl had clung to the chest of her dead mother the entire night, recalls her cousin Ashok. Her one-and-a-half-old sister died in the Shakuntala's lap. Papal survived as the mother fell on her after being hit by bullets. Thus, only a few bullets could reach her. "In fact when the chopper came to evacuate the injured, Papal was not ready to go. She insisted on taking her mother along," said a tearful Ashok. When militants knocked at the door of Mithu's house in the night, the family was fast asleep. As they pointed guns at the sleeping children, Mithu's wife Jatti fell at their feet praying for mercy on the children. "Inhan ney kujh wi nahin dekhya, inhan no na maro (They have yet to see the world, don't kill them)," Jatti is said to have told militants. Mithu said these words hardly had any affect on them. The militants, without a second thought, shot his wife and the children. Now attending to their injured kin, Mithu and the others fear that the gunman are still around in their village and if security is not given to them the militants might return.