Srinagar, March 31: He was a hero — a teenager who took on jihadists and lived to tell the tale. On March 19, India’s third-highest peacetime gallantry award, Shaurya Chakra, was conferred on Irfan Sheikh by President Ram Nath Kovind at a ceremony in Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Then, the 16-year-old disappeared — into hiding, in a house where the family has been living in fear of reprisal from the jihadists.
In Kashmir, medals and honours earned in the service of the country are meant to be hidden, not shared. “…here if I get a medal, I have to hide it. It hardly has any value. Who in society would congratulate us,” said a police officer from south Kashmir.