15-year-old Aasim was waiting to meet his brother Aurangzeb who was on leave for Eid from his army duty and was travelling home from his duty. Instead of gifts and hugs from brother, Aasim and his family received bullet-ridden body of Rifleman Aurangzeb, who was abducted by unknown kidnappers and killed. This incident has left the army man’s family in irreparable despair but Aasim is still firm on his decision to join the army just like his brother.

For the people of Salani region in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir, joining Indian military is a way of life – just like it was for Rifleman Aurangzeb, whose father Mohammad Hanief too was a sepoy of the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry. But the region submerged in utter grief when Aurangzeb was abducted while he was on his way to home for Eid holidays, unarmed and alone. The army jawan had boarded a private vehicle to travel from Shopian to Poonch, which was when the vehicle was intercepted near Kalampora to abduct Aurangzeb. Later, the unarmed army man’s bullet-riddled body was found at Gussu village, about 10 km from Kalampora, in Pulwama district.

The death of young and brave son has left Hanief and his family devastated, but it was the slain jawan’s youngest brother Aasim who was shaken to the core. The young boy said that his brother was talking to him on phone and had promised to bring new clothes and gifts including his much awaited cricket bat. Aasim heard the vehicle being intercepted while he was on call with his brother, he said “My brother (Aurangzeb) was on his way to Poonch in a private vehicle. He was talking to me. I heard a shout ordering the vehicle to stop. I thought there was some checking. I never imagined militants were kidnapping my unarmed brother.”

Aasim, who was eagerly waiting for his brother to arrive home for Eid celebrations, but his beloved brother arrived in a coffin. Despite the immense loss and being broken to the core, the young teenager’s spirit has remained unbroken and his will to join the army, just like his brother has remained unshaken. Aasim is firm about this and says, “I will join Army like my brothers and father”. It was martyred jawan Auranzeb’s father, who said that his son had died but urged people to not stop sending their children to join the military and serve the nation. While the family struggles with grief, their will to serve the country’s armed forces has only strengthened and they now want the government to take strong steps to address the issue of terrorism and bring peace in Kashmir.