PESHAWAR: Eighth-grader Uzair Ali was shot 11 times – such was the brutality of the terrorists who attacked Army Public School (APS) on December 16 and killed schoolchildren and teachers with heartless premeditation. And such was the scale of brutality, when Uzair’s aged grandfather searched for his beloved grandchild, the hospital handed him the wrong coffin; there were just so many dead children in one place.
“Uzair was my first child and was adored by the entire family. He was just thirteen-and-a-half and there were 11 bullets in his small body,” his father Ahmad Ali tells The Express Tribune.
According to Ahmad who is an electrician and lives in Mohalla Syed Wali in Nasir Khan Chowk, Uzair had been enrolled at APS since playschool.
Ahmad was in Lahore when he saw on the news that APS had been attacked. “I called my brother and father and told them to go the school because several children from our family studied there,” he said.
Ahmad’s wife had already left for the school and following his phone call, his father rushed to Lady Reading Hospital (LRH). “The poor man kept crying with all the other people there and mistook every student for his grandson,” said Ahmad. “He kept asking ‘where is Uzair Ali?’.”
Uzair’s grandfather was so distraught that when the hospital’s administration handed him the coffin of another student named Uzair, he was unable to look at the child’s face and brought the body home.
When Uzair’s mother learnt he had been found she rushed home, but the boy lying in the coffin was not her Uzair, said Ahmad.
He added the body was returned to LRH and another search was initiated for Uzair with the hope that he might have made it out of the school alive.
However, the family was not so fortunate and when the army’s operation ended in the school, Uzair Ali was found among the dead.
“He wanted to be an army officer from a young age and we were certain he would be recruited,” said Ahmad who has two children left now; 11-year-old Malaika and seven-year-old Jalal Ibrahim.
The bereaved father said Uzair was a house captain and like all parents he had high hopes for him but those dreams were quashed that ill-fated day.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 11th, 2015.