A woman at the funeral of Dagga in Srinagar. (Reuters)
Srinagar, April 11: Minibus driver Ali Mohammad Dagga was working hard to save money for the marriage of his two daughters. That was before stones cut him short.
The 55-year-old died last evening after he was reportedly hit by stones thrown by pro- azadi protesters near Hyderpora in Srinagar. It was not immediately clear whether Dagga was caught in a clash between security forces and stone-throwers or fell victim to stone-throwers trying to enforce a shutdown.
Kashmir has been seething against the death of eight protesters killed by security forces during Sunday's bypoll in the Srinagar parliamentary constituency, though not many are grieving for the dead father of three.
Unlike the others, Dagga - who also leaves behind his widowed wife - had not been killed by the security forces.
The tragedy struck the family as the Valley, which witnessed its most tumultuous election in memory on Sunday, observed a shutdown for the second consecutive day in protest against the death of the eight young men and the injuries suffered by dozens in clashes with the security forces.
Jammu and Kashmir chief electoral officer Shantmanu today ordered a re-poll at 38 polling stations in the Srinagar parliamentary constituency on Thursday. Elections could not be held at these places because of large-scale violence on April 9.
The Election Commission yesterday deferred the vote in Anantnag - the other parliamentary seat where bypolls are to be held - from April 12 to May 25 after the Mehbooba Mufti administration said the situation was not conducive for voting.
Former chief minister Omar Abdullah asked how a repoll could be held when the Anantnag election could not. "Situation isn't conducive for polls in Anantnag but it's conducive for a re-poll in the areas worst affected by violence on the 9th. Logic?" Omar tweeted.
A police spokesperson said Dagga was on his way from Bemina to Hyderpora where some protesters were throwing stones near a school. "Stones hit the driver who got injured. He lost control and the bus collided with an electric pole.... The driver was rushed to a nearby hospital but his life could not be saved," the spokesperson said.
Police sources said a case had been registered and a probe started.
Dagga's son Yousuf, who sells eatables on his handcart, said the government had hired the vehicle to ferry poll staff and security force personnel. "My father didn't own the vehicle, he was only driving it. Some days back, he had gone to Jammu to ferry them (the security force personnel) to Srinagar. Yesterday, he was returning home," Yousuf said.
Family sources said Dagga had been working hard to arrange money for the marriage of his daughters. "They are an extremely poor family and hard work was his only asset," said a relative.