Even as 24 hours have passed, the family of Ambreen Bhat, an artist popular on social media and from Budgam in central Kashmir, was clueless about the reasons behind her killing inside the house on May 25 evening.
Khazir Muhammad Bhat, ailing father of the victim, watched from the kitchen window a youth entering the house on the pretext of booking a shooting for a song with Ambreen on that evening. She, Mr. Bhat said, politely turned down the offer to perform because “she had decided to take rest for a few days”. The conversation between Ambreen and the unidentified man, however, was punctuated with a loud bang.
“The pistol-borne youth was accompanied by an unmasked youth. In the middle of the conversation when Ambreen was saying ‘she was not feeling well and asked the youth to come later for booking a shoot’, the youth pulled out a pistol and fired on the chest and head of Ambreen on the verandah of the house. She died immediately,” Mr. Bhat said.
Her nephew, a Class 5 student, was also hit in the arm in the firing. The family denied Ambreen was having any threat from anyone or any animosity.
“During the day, she was tending an ailing relative and returned home by 2:30 p.m. She had no threat ever. We have no animosity with anyone,” Mr. Bhat, who would shuttle between Jammu and Budgam with the family, said. “I have two daughters. She [Ambreen] was my son for she would earn for the family,” he added.
According to the police, three Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) men were involved “in this heinous terror incident”.
Hundreds of locals joined the family in the mourning. Several neighbours condemned the killing. “If she had done anything wrong, she should have been warned. A person can go wrong sometimes. However, humanity demands that the wrong is pointed out first before taking any action,” a neighbour said.
Ambreen, with around 26.8K followers on Instagram, would make reels and musical videos. Her last reel on a Bollywood song had a strap on it. It reads: “Love you MA”.
Mourning has become norm: Mehbooba
Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti said, “In Kashmir, mourning has sadly become the norm and a daily ritual. Countless innocent civilians are killed in one way or the other and devastated families are left behind to pick up the pieces. What will it take for the GOI to recalibrate their J&K policy to end this bloodshed?” She said the Government of India keeps blowing its trumpet of normalcy in J&”K even when such gruesome incidents suggest otherwise”.
J&K Apni Party vice president Javid Mustafa Mir said the killing spree of innocent people seemed to have no ending in Kashmir. “Such killings do not help anyone. Rather they increase the suffering of the people who have been grappling with the worst forms of violence over the past more than three decades,” he stated.