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‘He Was Like a Flower’: Kashmir Shootout Costs Mother Her Pre-Teen Son

On the evening of May 19, Kousar Jan called her 12-year-old son, Basim Aijaz, just as she would every time her only child went out, to ask if he was safe. Basim replied that he would be back in 30 minutes. Basim had gone to see the site of a shootout at Nawakadal in old Srinagar. Hours earlier, two militants had been killed in the gunfight, which left at least 12 residential houses destroyed. It’s routine for Kashmir’s residents to visit sites of shootouts

At home, a worried Jan was still waiting for Basim to return as 30 minutes had past. Her phone rang, and a stranger told her that her son had been taken to a hospital. Basim had suffered severe burn injuries after “an unexploded shell went off” at the site as he stood on the rubble with dozens of other people, the family said. “I talked to him (in hospital); he told me, ‘Mama, I will come back quickly,'” Jan recalled. 

A day later, Basim succumbed to his injuries at Shri Mahraja Hari Singh Hospital, leaving his parents devastated. Basim was born after Jan prayed for six years to conceive a child. “He was a pampered kid. He was my whole world,” she said. “I would have spent my life just looking at him… I don’t know what to do; I have no purpose to live now,” Jan said.

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