Another young and vibrant soldier from Kashmir fell to wanton terrorist bullets on 10th May 2017. He was Lieutenant Ummer Fayaz who had just joined the Indian army barely 6 months ago. He was born on 08 June 1994 and his 23-year-old life was snuffed out by Kashmiri brothers who have sold their souls to terror and have become tools in the hands of diabolical masters in Pakistan. More painful is the fact that he wasn’t killed in a face to face combat. He was not fairly challenged by soldiers in battle but was overwhelmed while unarmed and unprepared, in the midst of his sister’s marriage ceremonies by a baying pack of cowards. If I am charitable, I would label these killers as my misguided brethren but at times I feel that they really and truly do not deserve to be called Kashmiris.  Ummer had two younger sisters and a caring mother but his killers, crazed by their lust for blood, destroyed an innocent world. They killed him for joining the army of the “enemy”.

A sister’s pain and lament are more evocative than a thousand words and this is what Umer’s sister had to say: “Had it not been my own people who informed the terrorists about my brother’s whereabouts, my brother would have been alive today. My brother was sitting next to me while I was dressed in a Sharara for my Nikkah that night when they took away my brother in the very presence of my own people. They tortured my brother till he closed his eyes and dumped him in a nearby forest. My Nikkah turned out to be a funeral ceremony for me. The next day when his body was found, no help or sympathy was received from our neighbors for this cold-blooded murder of my brother in the hands of their misguided sons. No one condemned or stopped the mob who were pelting stones when my brother’s body was brought to the village. My aunt, Ummer’s mother could feel Ummer’s broken limbs when she held his hand to kiss her son for one last time. She was unconscious but my aunts from the neighborhood didn’t lend a hand. No political leaders paid us a visit. No one came to see my brother who suffered martyrdom for choosing the pathos service to the nation.”

On the other hand, Rohith Vemula who was born on 30 Jan 1989 committed suicide on 17 Jan 2016. He was a student. He was 27 years old. Rohith’s death was justly mourned by politicians, human rights activists and other similar people and organizations. Awards were returned, candle light vigils were organized, and the issue was raised in the UN Human Rights Council and rightly so. The bereaved mother was visited by politicians of all hues and colors and by the media pundits.
But then what did the young Ummer do for his memory and family to deserve the apathy and cavalier disregard of the throng that demonstrated so much pain and anguish over Vemula’s unfortunate demise?  Ummer’s death was mourned by the lonely vigil of brothers in uniform and by his immediate family. No candlelight vigils, no political slugfests, no tears. No one from the political establishment attended the funeral. Why should they? Wouldn’t their precious lives be at risk if they ventured into those areas?

A nation gets the heroes it deserves. It pains me that the beautiful world in which I grew up is dissolving into the madness of unbridled and misguided rage which consumes both, those that nurture it and those that it consumes. No one cares any longer. It is an Orwellian nightmare where the most twisted logic is used to justify the most despicable ends. The ending of any young life, at the hands of those who let others rule their minds, is a huge tragedy for all concerned. I will, however, continue to wait for the light at the end of the tunnel
But we, who are proudly wearing the uniform or have worn it in the past, do care. We are proud of you, little brother. Rest in Peace in the Valhalla of the Brave.