8 July 2020
Local Media and press personnel in Kashmir, traveled to a village in Baramulla district and spoke to few of the thousands of family members of terror victims in Kashmir. All these years they refused to speak about their ordeals to the media for fear of their own lives. But this year they seem to be facing their fears headstrong. It could very well be the effect of abrogation of Article 370 that was more like a separator than bridge between local Kashmiris and rest of the Indians. Or it may be the detention of evil politicians who seemed to have a role to play in keeping the conflict alive, thus propogating terror outfits. Whatever may be the cause of these victims to gather courage and speak out, it will surely inspire many others and hopefully help to eliminate the ideology of terror.
Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir has claimed several innocent lives over the years. Some were sole breadwinners while others lost their kin to terrorism.
Here we speak to some of those who have suffered for years at the hands of terrorists supported from across the border in Kashmir.
Sajid Yusuf was 8 years old when an incident changed his life forever and stole his childhood. Hailing from north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, he says he saw his mother’s blood on the walls after she was shot in the eye by terrorists just when his uncle was killed outside his house. Sajid still remembers putting soil on his mother’s grave when he was too young to understand pain. A 17-year-old event still sends shivers down his spine. He shares grief with many like him who lost their loved ones to terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. “When I spoke to many families like mine, I didn’t feel like an orphan. Here, someone’s brother, son, or daughter has been killed but everything is decided by who dies of whose bullet. There is selective condemnation in Kashmir,” Yusuf says.
Tanveer Ahmad Bhat
Tanveer Ahmad Bhat’s father was working with the special operations group (SOG), an anti-terror unit formed in Jammu and Kashmir during the peak of terrorism in the valley in 1994. The aim of the group was to uproot terrorism from the erstwhile state. In 1998, Tanveer says his father was en route to work when terrorists from the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen terror group attacked his vehicle and killed him. “22-years have passed but no one came for our help. I ran from pillar to post to get some kind of help for my family but no one helped us,” says the visibly angry son. He complains why no relief was provided to the family.
Ali Mohammad Sheikh
On April 30, 2018, three youth in their 20s were shot dead by Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists in the Old Town area of Baramulla district, among them was Ali Mohammad’s son. Ali is old now and still struggles to narrate the horror that his family has been witness to. He says he has been finding it hard to manage his house due to poor earnings, adding that his son’s killing made life miserable, as his eyes turn moist. “My son would earn and we would eat. I have other kids too but it’s very hard to earn a living in lockdown, no one came for our help,” says Ali. One of the killers of Ali’s son was later arrested and is now behind bars.
Mohammad Yusuf Ahangar
Yusuf’s son, Sameer, managed a shop near the deputy commissioner’s office in Baramulla. The shop was the only means of earning for the family. One evening, someone on the phone asked him to come out, only to get killed. His sick father says Sameer was shot with two bullets for no reason by terrorists. “Our shop is closed for two years now. We have been running from one office to another, just to get some relief but no one is coming for our rescue,” says Yusuf.