Now that Adil is dead, who will stitch the schoolbags?

The killing of eighteen-year-old Adil Ahmad Yadoo after an armed forces vehicle mowed him down in Srinagar has left his already impoverished family in deep shock and uncertain for the life ahead. Bilal Ahmad's photo story captures some of the profound elements of a family in grief. 

Adil Ahmad Yadoo was an eighteen-year-old boy, who was mowed down by an armed forces vehicle in Chattabal area of Srinagar during intense clashes between anti-India protesters and government forces on 5 May 2018 following a gun-battle between militants and armed forces. He died shortly afterwards, sending his impoverished family in shock.

Adil, son of a Pashmina shawl weaver, was a class 10th student who during his part-time stitched schoolbags to support his family.

Adil started stitching school bags when he was only 8 years old after his elder brother left the weaving job because of problems in vision, says his family.

Adil’s family lives in a rundown one-room house at Gassi Mohalla Safa Kadal. “The job was important for him because he had to support his family, which included four siblings,” says his brother Arif Ahmad.

“We manage life with great difficulty. We eat and sleep in a single room. My brother (Adil) had taken a loan from his employer (for whom he stitched bags),” Arif says.

The loan was going into buying a small piece of land where the family could construct a new house.

Adil’s last words to his friends, who accompanied him to the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) after he was injured reflect his deep concern for his family. “Do you think I will survive? If I die, please tell my parents not to cry,” he told them.

For Adil’s father Ghulam Ahmad Yadoo, his son was the most well behaved one among his other children. 

“He offered prayers five times a day. He was my backbone. They (government forces) broke it,” Ghulam Ahmad says, adding that every night before sleep, “Adil would massage his legs after laying out the bedding. He was an obedient son.”

For Adil’s six-year-old sister Rehana, his brother has gone to perform Hajj (the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca for Muslims), as the family hasn’t told her yet of the brutal fate Adil met. “When he will come back he will bring many gifts for me,” she says innocently. 

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A close-to-heart rosary which Adil would always carry and was also found with him when he died. © Bilal Ahmad
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A collection of Adil's recent photographs. © Bilal Ahmad
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A Kashmiri man shouts pro-freedom slogans during the funeral procession of Adil. © Bilal Ahmad
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Adil's sewing machine with which he would stitch school-bags for children to earn a livelihood and support his family. © Bilal Ahmad
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People shouting pro-freedom slogans during Adil's funeral procession. © Bilal Ahmad
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Adil's cousin sitting tormented while mourning for Adil's death. © Bilal Ahmad
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Adil's clothes and a school bag made my him hanging on a wall in his home. © Bilal Ahmad
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Adil's last earning, as displayed by his brother. © Bilal Ahmad
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Adil's father and relatives distressed due to Adil's death. © Bilal Ahmad
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Kashmiri children watching Adil's funeral from a fence. © Bilal Ahmad
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People offering funeral prayers of Adil at Eidgah Srinagar. © Bilal Ahmad
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Adil's six-year-old sister Rehana pensively sitting with a teddy bear gifted by her brother. © Bilal Ahmad


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