Poet Madhosh loses home and life’s work during Balhama gunfight

Curls of smoke still rose up from the debris of what was once the home of Ghulam Muhammad Bhat also known as Madhosh Balhami. Now all that is left of the two-storey house built by his father in 1967 are a few standing walls pockmarked with bullet holes and soot, piles of broken bricks and concrete. Glancing around with an expression of deep hurt and agony, Bhat sobs not for the home he lost but for the poetry he had written over the course of the last three decades, which was consumed by the incessant mortar shells fired by the government forces to kill two militants who had taken shelter in his home.
“Houses can be rebuilt. I have lost my life’s treasure, my poetry of past 30 years,” said Bhat. “With the first light of the day, I was not bothered about the damage to my house, but tried hard to find whether any of my poetic contribution could be saved. But what I found was that all my life’s hard work had turned into ashes,” said a distraught Bhat.
On Thursday afternoon, Bhat was in the garden writing some verses when three young men, two of them armed and one bleeding in his right leg from a gunshot wound barged into his compound. ““The one who was injured vanished within no time. I don’t know where he fled,” said Bhat. “The remaining two were holding guns in their hands and little ammunition. Both of them sought forgiveness from me as they knew they would die and my house would be damaged. The first one told me to allow them to offer two rakahs of prayers.”
Seeing two militants come into their house, Bhat’s wife, two sons and a daughter fled their home and took refuge in a nearby house. Soon, the government forces surrounded the neighbourhood, knowing that the militants were in the home of Bhat. In no time, the area shook up with the heavy explosions of mortar shells fired by the forces into the home.
“We couldn’t sleep for the entire night as my house was being blown up with mortars. The militants were firing intermittently. At 11 in the evening, the firing stops and there were loud explosions. At 2 pm in the night, the forces took away the bodies of two slain militants,” he says.
In the assault and subsequent destruction, Bhat lost all his work of thirty years of poetry that was contained in twenty books, beside his collection of 400 books. “My two famous books on my poetry that were published were Sadaye Abu Zar and Dard-e-Furqat,” he said. “In just one night, I lost my everything. My poetry was my life’s earning. Today, I have nothing to show to people.” Bhat says if forces’ had wished, they could have spared my house. Such was the intensity of the mortar shells used by the forces that there is hardly any trace of household goods including utensils etc. “Everything has been turned into ashes,” said Bhat.
Another house razed to the ground during the gun-battle belongs to Ghulam Mohiudin Mir, the brother-in-law of Bhat. “What should I say? I had saved money from my salary to buy gold for my daughter’s marriage. See what has happened to gold. It has turned into small pieces of coal,” said Mir while showing the tin trunk in which he had stored gold and cash for his daughter’s marriage scheduled for July 3 this year. Mir has three children, two daughters and a son. “My lone son and the other daughter are deaf and dumb,” he said
The village head, Ghulam Mustafa, said that the villagers would raise money to rebuild the homes soon. “We are duty bound to rebuild both the houses,” he said.