Tral (Jammu): The skies were grey, seemingly reflecting the sombre mood of the town, as about 1,500 people gathered here to take part in the funeral procession of Lance Naik Mohammed Iqbal Sheikh and his father.
The two sons of Tral, the town known to security officials as a hub of Jaish-e-Mohammed sympathisers and activists, were killed in an attack on the Sunjuwan military camp in Jammu. As the bodies of Sheikh and his father Mohi-ud-din Sheikh were brought here, the Rishipora area echoed with the wails of the soldier’s young widow, Shabnama. Iqbal, 32, who had served the Army for 12 years, married Shabnama two years ago. Their son is 18 months old.
The area is known to be a stronghold of the Jaish-e- Mohammed, which carried out the fidayeen attack on the Army camp, killing seven people — six army men and the civilian, Mohi-ud-din Sheikh, who was living with his son. “Iqbal had insisted that his father come and live with him in his camp. It was his first posting to the home state and he wanted his father to live with him so that he could avoid the harsh winter of the South Kashmir area,” Tariq Ahmed, the soldier’s cousin, told PTI here.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, an official said such a large gathering for the funeral of an Army man showed the local people’s opposition, however nascent, to acts of terrorism. People may have attended the funeral of Hizbul militant Burhan Wani in large numbers in 2016 because they feared the local terrorists, but the gathering for a jawan’s funeral procession showed they were ready to defy the diktats of terror organisations, the official said.
“What is happening is not right,” said a local resident. “These were our own people. What crime did he commit to deserve this death? The bloodshed must stop,” he added. Another person present at the funeral recalled that Iqbal was a jovial man who always had a smile on his face.
Pakistan threat to pay India back
In a sharp reaction to Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s warning on Monday, her counterpart in Pakistan, Khurram Dastgir, issued a statement saying they would “pay India back in its own coin in case of any Indian misadventure”. He vowed to “defend robustly” every inch of Pakistan’s soil, and said: “Any Indian aggression, strategic miscalculation, or misadventure, regardless of its scale, mode, or location will not go unpunished.”