Lieutenant Ummer Fayaz's very first home leave turned out to be his last. He had earned his commission as a Lieutenant just five months ago. He had come home to attend his cousin's wedding in Shopian district, Jammu and Kashmir.
On May 9, he was forcibly kidnapped by terrorists, who beat him up in front of his family. His body was found the next day - tortured and shot. Across India, thousands held candle marches and tributes for the slain martyr.
If one goes by the Kashmiri logic, this perhaps makes no sense. He was a Kashmiri, one of 'them', the dreaded other. Why did the rest of India suddenly care about him? The answer is obvious. Unlike so many people who are wholly dedicated to destruction, Fayaz wanted to be part of building it. Creation is always nobler than destruction, and mindless destruction - be it of precious life or property, is the worst of it all.
Many in the military are calling Fayaz's murder a 'watershed' moment. It is extremely rare for an 'off-duty' officer to be killed by terrorists. Perhaps, for so many days, even the terrorists understood that they would never be able to stem the flood of Kashmiris who flock to government jobs - even in the armed forces or police - every year.
How can any support be generated if daily, common Kashmiris are slain by other Kashmiris? The Brotherhood of 'Kashmiriyat' and all of that.
Perhaps such thoughts are now fading into the background. Fayaz was murdered by Kashmiris themselves, whose only goal seems to be to spread terror. It's hard to imagine these men looking to build a new Kashmir, or fighting for 'freedom', as so many in the Left-Liberal sphere like to claim they are. In fact, answers have been limited from that side, and the reasons are obvious.
Everyone in India knows the truth - this was a terror killing done by terrorists who wanted to kill a high-value target so that they can intimidate the rest of the population. For years now, as violence in the valley spins out of control, we have been steadily fed a diet of 'they have aspirations' from various sources When it comes to the aspirations of Fayaz, all are silent.
After a gruelling course, Fayaz qualified for the Indian Army. Presumably, he aspired to stay in the Army, either in a short-term commission or the rest of his lives. He was brutally murdered for having this aspiration. Are we now really going to pretend it was a routine killing?
People like Fayaz represent the worst fears of the terrorists and the fond dreams of the rest of us. He volunteered for the Army because at some level, he believed in what the country stood for. They killed him because they fear such belief, such realities.
Terrorists do not care about building anything - a house, village, city or even a nation. And when the terrorists come from another country, then the fate of this country is truly too small for them to consider. We must acknowledge Fayaz's death for what it is - another nail in the coffin for those who like to imagine terrorists have a higher goal.
All terrorists are 'good' until they shoot you, after all. We marched for Fayaz because we respected his idea of building a better world. They killed him for the same reason. That's all. But it's not like their attempts are working particularly well. 19,000 Kashmiris tried to join the armed forces last month.
To paraphrase from a famous film - "A man can be killed. But an idea is bullet-proof,"
Last Updated 31, Mar 2018, 6:36 PM IST