How stone-pelting in Kashmir almost killed my father and me

It may have been a pebble but when it was hurled at a lethal speed it cost innocent lives.

 |  3-minute read |   02-08-2016
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"Professor Niranjan Singh fired a pistol shot and it pierced the wooden frame of the window in the classroom. My dear sirs, momentum is the product of mass and velocity, hope you got the concept."

While helping me with a numerical, my father narrated this incident to me, about his teacher explaining to him the concept of momentum.

This was way back in '60s , when he was studying in Government Higher Secondary School, Anantnag.

The concept and the definition stuck and it was clear that a lightweight object, a small stone if hit with great speed could be lethal.

In the summer of 1989, while Kashmir was silently, surreptitiously heading towards self-destruction, my parents pooled in all the provident fund, fixed deposits, and soft loans and started the construction of our home in Chanpora, just in front of Shiva temple.

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In order to get the design right and save money, my father used to shuttle between work and construction, which took a heavy toll on him.

In the month of November 89, the structure was complete and my father took me and mother, leaving my sibling at home to show us our new home.

We were happy to see our newly-built home, although it was still a bare structure.

After spending a couple of hours, we started packing. We reached the bus stop and all of a sudden traffic was halted and panic gripped us.

We asked a shopkeeper, who was hurriedly closing the shutter of his shop as to what had happened. He said, "It seems that one of the top militant commanders, Javed Mir, has been arrested." 

indiatv619124_kashmi_080216041307.jpg I don't remember the span, however when I regained my consciousness. (AP) 

We headed towards Bagh-e-Mahtaf, where my mom's sister lived, anticipating that things would be back to normal in a couple of hours, however it started getting worse.

As my sibling was alone, father and I decided to take a chance and started walking down towards the road. We saw a Tata mini bus approaching with half of the seats occupied and we boarded it. The driver sensing the peril ahead was driving slowly and cautiously.

It seemed fine till Munshi Ram Bagh and the driver picked up pace. Out of the blue, a couple of teenagers started shouting and one of them hurled a stone, which hit the driver's windshield.

The driver lost control of the steering wheel and in a split second rammed straight into the shop by the side of the road and after that I don't know what happened.

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I don't remember the span, however when I regained my consciousness, I saw myself near the door. I picked myself up and saw my father with his head down, motionless, rooted to his seat.

I walked to him, pulled him up and asked him to run along with me. I could see he was in pain, maybe he had hurt his knee or something, but this wasn't the time to think about anything but saving our lives.

Next morning, the local daily carried the story - the drivers' limbs had to be amputated, there were passengers in the back seat that had died and there were a few who were critical.

It still weighs on my consciousness and I feel guilty that I could have helped some of them but I chose only my father.

I do not know about those unidentified teenagers, who would have grown up now and probably fathered some children, who hurled a small stone, but at such lethal speed, it cost innocent lives. They too could have been someone's children, parents, brothers and sisters.

Writer

Arvind Munshi Arvind Munshi @munshiarvind

The writer works as a technology head for one of South Asia's biggest media conglomerates, India Today Group.

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