Author: Nazir Masood
Date: January 2, 2017
For a state bruised for months by clashes between security forces and protesters, Kashmir witnessed a unique sight on Sunday. Thousands gathered to attend the funeral of policeman, killed while fighting terrorists in north Kashmir, giving him a hero's sendoff.
In scenes not witnessed in the Valley for years, a huge crowd turned up for the last rites of constable Abdul Kareem who was killed after he intercepted a group of terrorists at a checkpoint in northern Kashmir.
As the body reached his home, an entire village in Langate came out to mourn the cop.
Leading the funeral procession was Langate's legislator, Engineer Rashid. "When a soldier is killed, there is mourning at his home or a civilian is killed there is mourning. Death is death... murder is a murder whoever is killed," the legislator said.
In recent years, huge crowds have been seen turning up for funerals of terrorists in the state. But this is the first time in years that people came out for a policeman killed on duty.
During last summer's unrest in the valley - sparked by the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani - hostility against state police had deepened so much that many policemen apparently did not even go home fearing attacks by crowds.
Langate in north Kashmir was one of the most volatile areas of the valley during the recent unrest.
Large crowds gathering to attend the funeral of dead terrorists had been a major concern of police in the state. Last month, after the death of two Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists in an encounter on December 9, thousands marched on the streets and attended the funeral of Majid Zargar, Lashkar's face in South Kashmir.