To Iqbal Bajad, who has completed his MBA, his father Yousuf, 40, was an educated man. The first matriculate from the family residing in Kachama village of Kupwara district in of north Kashmir, Yousuf was a daily-wage labourer before he was recruited as a Special Police Officer (SPO) in 1999. He was working for the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the J&K Police. On Wednesday, March 28, Yousuf was killed along with a soldier, Ashraf Rather, 35, and another SOG personnel in a gunfight with militants in Halmatpora forest, around 15 km from the village.
The villagers in these parts of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district often work as porters for the army, when not employed as agricultural labourers further down in the Valley. There is a government-run middle school, but the dropout rate is high. The primary health centre, villagers say, is usually shut. A kuccha road, full of potholes, leads to this village.