I have come to Kashmir after a long time to spend some time with my relatives for couple of weeks. After I landed at Srinagar Airport, one of my cousins is waiting outside for me along with his driver. After seeing me he greeted me loudly by saying “Asalaamualaikum” in a typical Kashmiri style. After that he hugged me and grabbed my luggage trolley which was subsequently passed on to the driver and we walked towards the parking lot where the vehicle was parked. While walking towards the parking lot I enquired about the well being of everyone back home. I got inside the new SUV which my cousin has recently purchased. We sat on the rear seat very comfortably. Driver started the vehicle and we drove towards our home situated in one of the new and upcoming localities of Srinagar city. While travelling, I could see only gloomy faces all along the road. Police and Indian Paramilitary forces manning the empty roads was quite monotonous sight. Shops were shut, traffic was thin, visible marks of violence of previous days were imminent. Burnt tyre marks, scattered stones and bricks all-around. Atmosphere was full of tension. I was already quite aware about the happenings, thanks to my Facebook activism, so I did not ask many questions. I was only experiencing everything with my own eyes now. We reached home. My father, uncles, aunts and cousins were waiting for me. As I entered the courtyard, everyone came out to greet me. I was so happy to be in the company of my loved ones. After having my lunch, I requested everyone to excuse me for a nap as I was feeling the jet lag. I went for the sleep. I got up before the Maghrib prayers. Quickly took a bath adjoined my father and uncles for the prayers at the nearby mosque. After the prayers, everyone in the mosque came to greet me and to enquire about my well being. We started to leave the mosque one by one and on the road outside the mosque some teenager boys along with few young men had assembled. They were shouting in the middle of the road. Most of them were masked and some had bricks in their hands. They were shouting, “We want freedom”, “Allahu Akbar” and “Waseem ko rehaa karo” (Release Waseem). I stopped there and asked one of the boy, “what has happened, why are you protesting in the evening. Is everything OK”. He said, “Police has arrested our friend Waseem who is only 17 years old. He has been lodged in the Police station. He is innocent. They are beating him”. I became curious and asked, “Who is this Waseem ?”. He replied, “Waseem Ahmed Dar, son of Shaheed (Martyr) Fayaz Ahmed Dar”. When he uttered the name of Fayaz Ahmed Dar, I automatically was taken aback into the past. It was a flashback.
It was a pleasant morning. I had come to my home for the post exam vacations. It was already the second week of my vacation. I was awakened by an announcement through the loudspeaker of our mosque. My mother came rushing towards my room to wake me up. She knocked at the door of my room and called me to come out fast. I asked her to enter the room. After entering the room, she said, “Crackdown”. I said, “I heard the announcement”. She said, “Wait for others to come out and then join them”. I quickly had my bath and offered my Fajr prayers in my room. I saw everyone had already come out on the road including my father, my cousins and my uncles. I too joined them. We were flocked to a nearby field and asked to sit in lines by Indian Armed Forces, who were all around in huge numbers. It was already 8:00AM in the morning now. Whole day passed off peacefully. Indian Security Forces had laid siege of our locality and were searching all the houses one by one in the absence of men. Houses were without men and only small children were allowed to stay put with their mothers. All the men had been held at the gunpoint in the field outside. It was already 6:00 P.M in the evening; we were now feeling the cold and hunger severely on us. We had already sat in that field at the gunpoint for 12 hours. As we had started to show our resentment, some young boys were asked to line up in front of a vehicle in which a masked Mukhbir (informer) was sitting. As boys started walking past that vehicle suddenly the informer blew the horn of the vehicle. Boys were one by one asked to look into the window of the vehicle. Informer sitting inside identified three boys, who were whisked away to some unknown location. I was a bit lucky that day. I was not paraded in front of the vehicle. We all were asked to return to our homes and assemble again in the field by 6.30 A.M the next day. We all walked fast towards our houses. As we entered our houses, all the women folk were waiting for us at the main entrance .They were exhausted and looking tense. We were offered tea and Bakir’khanis (Puffs) bought few days earlier. After having the tea, all of us stood up to offer the prayers which we had unintentionally skipped during the day. My mother and my aunts had prepared food for the family quickly. That day instead of 10:00 PM in the evening, we sat around the Dastarkhwan (Dining cloth) at 9 PM only as we were hungry and had to get up early the next day to sit in the Crackdown again. We were all having the dinner and womenfolk were narrating the whole day’s proceedings. We asked, “Did they misbehave with you”. My mother replied, ”Although they were very rude, they however did not touch us but they came inside the rooms with their dirty shoes on”. We asked, “Are you sure they did not steal anything while searching our house.”Mother replied, “Allah knows, but they were tricked by us as we did not let them search back room where gold ornaments and other valuables have been kept. But still they ransacked our store room, overturned the rice drums and other foodstuff.” My mother fearfully however could not hide something very important from us. She said, “We all were in too much fear because Fayaz Dar was in the house hiding”. We all were taken aback and asked, “What Fayaz Dar ?. How did he enter the house and how did he save himself from getting caught”. Mother, “As soon as you all left for the crackdown, Fayaz jumped over the boundary wall into our compound. He wanted to flee from the locality. He wanted to cross the lane into the other locality but he could not cross our compound as there were too many army men guarding the lane. He got stuck up here”. After a long pause my mother continued,” As I saw fear in his eyes, I told him not risk to cross the lane. We will try to save you from them. I asked him to put off his jacket and start washing all the clothes piled up in the laundry. He obeyed and started to wash the clothes. I brought all the bed sheets and table cloths to him. I gave him too much of stuff for the whole day”. As army men entered our house, they had enquired about him and asked, why did not he join the men in the field to which my mother had replied that the guy was a domestic servant. “He has a lot of work to do here”. She had even cursed Fayaz in front of army men for being too lazy. She had told army men that,” this man will be happy to sit idle in the field with others as he loves laziness”. The officer among the army men had laughed at my mother and had asked her to send the guy for the identification parade next day. As the crackdown was lifted for the day, Fayaz had fled to some other location leaving behind heaps of washed clothes, Bed lining and other stuff. We were expecting that the siege around our locality will be lifted during the night but to our surprise it was further intensified. We all went to bed one by one. We were again awakened by the loudspeaker announcement next morning. No Azaan was called in our Masjid that morning. It was 6.30 A.M. We all were again herded back to the empty field. This day the morning was bit chilly. We all were again asked to sit in lines. As the field started filling up I was looking at every face and every face was frightened. Looking forward to a less tiring day I started to look for the neighbourhood boys with whom I was friendly. On my back, I found my younger cousin sitting and in the front, I was surprised as well as frightened to see Fayaz Ahmed Dar sitting with his head down. He was reciting Quranic verses silently. I called him by name, “Fayaz” to which he quickly responded in a very low pitched voice. He said, “Do not call me by this name. Pretend you do not know me.” I understood what he was expecting and what he was conveying. He carried on with his recitation of Quranic verses. Fear had left his mind. He was preparing for the worse. He did not stop even for a minute. He kept on reciting. Then there was a call for the identification parade. As the soldier asked the line next to us to stand up for the parade, Fayaz started to recite, “Ashadu’an Laillaah il Lallaah, waAshadu’anna Mohammadur RasoolulLaah (SAWS)” (There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger) all bit more loudly. I became fearful for him and everyone else. I too started to recite with him. As our turn came, our line stood up. We started to walk in front of the vehicle in which the informer was sitting. I was 7th or 8th in the line and Fayaz was before me. We walked slowly. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, including Fayaz passed the informer without any problem and horn started buzzing. Army men pounced upon me and caught me by neck. They took me closer to the vehicle and showed my face to the masked man inside. He shakes his head and whispers, “not him but the other one” pointing his finger towards Fayaz. I was left with a kick on my back and Fayaz was caught. He was ruthlessly thrown inside the vehicle in which the informer was sitting. After half an hour, Army men ordered us to leave for our homes. They actually had got the man, they were looking for. We went to our homes relieved and this time too early. People were having a sigh of relief except me. I was frightened to death. We all were predicting the fate of Fayaz sitting at our homes. My mother was too sad. She was praying for his safety. I could see tears in her eyes. She was all the time narrating about the sequence of events of the other day. She had become hysterical. It was 5:30 in the evening. Gunshots were heard. After a pause of five minutes, gunshots were heard again. This time they were more intense. We were all frightened. Everyone in our house had taken a cover. After a wait of 15 to 20 minutes, I peeped outside through my window. I could see army vehicles were leaving one by one. After an hour we heard wails of women and some shouts outside on the road. I came out. Before I could ask what has happened, I saw wife of Fayaz had fainted on the road. I now understood Fayaz has been killed. They had taken Fayaz after his arrest to his home, in search for weapons and then to his in-laws house and then to the nearby abandoned Pandit house. There in that house he had been showered with bullets. Fayaz had received in all 20 bullets on his body and had died instantaneously. After few days of his martyrdom we came to know that Fayaz was asked to hand over weapons by army men. He told them that he has hid them in his house. They took him there. He met there with his father and mother. He could not find his wife and children there in his house. His father told him that his wife has gone to her father’s home along with the children. Fayaz tricked army men again and told them that he had hidden his weapons in his in-laws home. Army men had beaten him ruthlessly in front of his father and mother. They took him to his In-laws house. There he meets his wife and children. Tried to kiss his son Waseem who was just two years old then but army men did not allow him. After that he tells the officer that, he has no weapons. He only wanted to have a last glance of his family. He was straight-away taken for the execution from there. Fayaz left behind his two years old son and few months old daughter along with his widow and old parents. Fayaz was a militant who had never harmed any innocent. Fayaz was a pious and fearless man. He was just too brave to die naturally. Back to 2010: His son was arrested for street protests. Then he was accused of stone pelting which he never indulged in. He was slapped with PSA (Public Safety Act). Presently Waseem is lodged in a jail too far for her poor mother to visit. I am sure when Waseem will be released; it will be too late for him. He will come out from the jail not as Waseem but as Fayaz Ahmed Dar. He has been punished for his father again and again and their thirst for the punishment is unending. And the cycle goes on……
*All the events narrated above are true but names of people have been changed.
© 2011 Koshur Mazloom (Koshur Mazloom is a pen name of an online activist)