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Mothers of the disappeared

Published Nov 14, 2012 09:35am


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A mother cries during the funeral of her son on the outskirts of Srinagar in February 2010. – Reuters (File Photo)

SRINAGAR: She struggled for 20 years to trace her son, Nazir Ahmad. On September 1, 2009, Mugali Begum died without seeing her lone son.

Her struggle began on September 1990 when Nazir, a school teacher, was allegedly picked up by security forces on his way to school in Srinagar.

Mugali was divorced by her husband few months after her marriage. She lived alone with Nazir and fought singly to trace him after his disappearance.

“She died without her dream fulfilled, but we carry on her struggle,” said Parveena Ahanger, President of Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons.

Parveena’s son Javed Ahmad is missing since 20 years. In August 1990, Javed was allegedly arrested by NSG commandos. When Javed did not return, Parveena began searching for her son.

“There is not a single place in Kashmir where I did not look for him,” Parveena said.

During her hunt for Javed, Parveena came across several other women like her whose sons had gone missing. In 1994, she founded Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), which has over 3,000 members.

“We all members of APDP have same suffering, same cause,” Parveena says, “We are fighting together.”

When 70 year old Taja Begum lost her husband, she stood strong to bring up her four sons and four daughters.

But even after braving all pains for bringing up her children, she stands alone today with no one to even wipe her tears.

“When my husband died, my children were toddlers. I did not lose hope and stood strong to give best upbringing to my children. But my efforts fetched nothing and today I am all alone,” says Taja Begum from Handwara district.

Taja worked hard to support her family and nurture her children.

As her sons grew up and began to earn, Taja was much relieved of her burden.

“But least did I know of the lifelong pain I had to endure,” she adds.

The calm of her life was shattered in January 1996 when a few gunmen barged into her house and asked her three sons – Muhammad Ramzaan, Muhammad Amin and Ghulam Nabi – to accompany them.

For the whole night her sons did not return. In the morning, the bodies of two of them were found in the paddy fields while Ghulam Nabi was returned home.

The tragedy did not end here. Ghulam Nabi soon became the victim of disappearance in 1996. Ironically Taja’s only surviving son, Mushtaq Ahmad had been crippled after being hit by a bullet in 1997.

Exhausted with her decades of struggle, Jameela Begum’s dream is now to see her son’s name inscribed on memorial which APDP wishes to build for disappeared persons. Her son, Mohammad Irfan, is missing since 1994.  “He had gone to the market to buy me medicines. He never came back,” laments Jameela.

Irfan, Jameela’s lone son, was then a student of class 8, aged 14 years. “He was my lone son. I am fighting alone and supporting my family as my husband is bedridden.”

The story of Jaana Begum is no different either. Once a mother of seven sons, she is left with three.

“My family has been devastated,” Jaana Begum says in breaking voice.

Jaana Begum lost her four sons and husband during the past 22 years of conflict. In 1997, her son Lateef Ahmad was allegedly shot dead by unidentified gunmen. In 1998, her two other sons got killed. In 2001, another son, Sharief -ud-din went missing when he left home for work and did not return.

According to the APDP there are about 10,000 missing persons in the Valley. However in view of contradictory figures given by the government from time to time, no authentic official figures exist.

During the recently concluded autumn session of the of Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly  government revealed said  there are  2305 persons  missing till July 2012. In 182 cases, First Information Report (FIR) has been filed, ex-gratia relief has been paid in 729 cases, benefit of compassionate appointment has been given in 58 cases while cash lieu of government jobs has been paid in 65 cases.

But in the year 2002, the National Conference government revealed 3184 persons had disappeared from 1989 till 2002. In February in 2003, the then Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Syed, had informed the State Assembly that 3,744 person went missing between 2000 and 2002, 1,553 persons disappeared in 2000, 1,586 went missing in 2001 and 605 in 2002.

Addition to the contradictions, Bhim Singh from Jammu Kashmir Panthers Party said 4,000 persons had disappeared in the Valley since the commencement of conflict in 2004.

In 2005, the Congress government said 693 cases of disappearances were registered.

On January 2, 2007, the state government admitted in the Legislative Assembly that 1,017 youth were missing since 1990 which included 433 from Baramulla and153 from Anantnag.

In 2009, official figures released in the State Assembly revealed 3,429 had disappeared from 1990 till 2009 with only 110 missing after arrests by security forces.

During the 2011 Assembly session, the government revealed that 1,378 missing reports were filed.

While the hundreds remain missing, APDP demands setting up of an independent committee to conduct probes into the disappearances and urge India to ratify International Convention on Enforced Disappearances. APDP holds monthly sit-in regularly to protest against the disappearances and demand justice.

Human rights activist and coordinator Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) Khurram Parvaiz told Dawn that an international probe must be ordered to investigate cases of disappearances.

“There are over 8,000 disappearances cases in the state,” Parvaiz said. “It is a wide spread phenomenon.”

He added that justice has not been done in even a single case. “We want to know who are behind the disappearances so that justice is done.”

Parvaiz Imroz, a human rights lawyer, added that investigation into disappearances is need of the hour.

“Disappearances are a major issue and government has to act. We have to engage international organisations for the investigations but unfortunately the government is not allowing international organisations to intervene,” Imroz added.

For Parveena, the struggle is life-long. “We shall not rest till our death.”


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Comments (31) Closed

Shri Nov 15, 2012 01:25am
Moise Nov 15, 2012 06:03am
Boys and girl, here is the answer why there was a two nation theory.
Ahmed Saeed Nov 15, 2012 01:05pm
They have gone to India.
Atta Nov 14, 2012 05:02pm
This man was picked up by security forces. I feel sorry for Kashmiri people who are suffering because of religious extermist and Indain Government......
Abdur Rehman Nov 15, 2012 12:57am
The root cause of the problem is illegal occupation and people like Nayan don't realize that basic fact. Nayan has no feelings or mercy for the mother of a young man abducted by occupying Indian forces. The problem continues and even today, these fighters killed three members of Indian security forces. Now you go, mourn and sing their deaths and bury them in marked graves. You have to suffer when you bring sufferings to others. This is also a dictum, isn't it ?
Neo Nov 15, 2012 01:49pm
I second that thought Nayan
Mustafa Nov 14, 2012 06:14pm
A heart-wrenching story indeed. It will be heart-wrenching in all situations for parents - where the youth have been brain-washed to by selfish crusaders (called militants or political extremists) to voluntarily fight and die. The situation will be as heart-wrenching where militants have forcibly kidnapped and pushed youth to militancy. It will be as heart-wrenching where a few political strongmen misuse their influencing power to fan militancy and demand a separate rule for no reason other than they identify more with a religion than part of a spiritual humanity. The security forces mentioned in this heart-wrenching story is just an extra player in the sad game.
rahat Nov 15, 2012 09:10am
Are you sure, this missing son is not militant
Nayan Nov 14, 2012 11:31am
Most of them have gone across and have been brainwashed and given AK-47 and Hand Grenades to kill innocent people. They have been told that Islam is in danger and they are the saviours. They are proud to belong to God's own army. They beleive that they are waging a war, a Jihad whose meaning they do not understand. They have no love for their brothers, sisters and mother who want them back. In the eyes of law they are nothing more than a militant with extreme views. Security forces treat them with hate and kill them without remorse, a militant, can not be brought back to the main stream. In war an enemy is shown respect and have a right to be treated under geneva convention. He is after all a soldier even if under custody, wears an uniform and obeys laws of war. A mujahid can not be distinguished from the civilians thus when he is discovered hiding in a house he is killed along with other people in the house. These young men die unsung and are buried in unmarked graves. Many militants I have interrogated have said with a weapon they felt like a king, very powerful and yet no responsibility. They could go any where to any place and demand to be fed. Kill any one at the drop of a hat. Live the life of a master. Alas the statistics show that from the time they become a militant to the time they are killed is three and half years. The dictum that anyone who lives by the gun dies by the gun too. NRP
Adnan Nov 14, 2012 04:05pm
shameful that you have been the investigator, judge, juror and executioner all rolled into one......not sure if you respect the laws of the land which doesn't warrant a death even to a militant or gives right to law enforcers to shoot people to death and start dispensing justice - you will see them practicing this in any other conflict or with any other criminal.....
Faisal Nov 14, 2012 06:28pm
Most of them think that they have the right to self determination based on UN resolution which ironically tabled by Indian prime minister Jawahar Lal Nehru. Most of them think that they have been cheated ruthlessly by denying them their right to vote freely. Most of the Indian people don't realize that no movement can prevail so long without the heartiest support of the indigenous people. The Kashmir movement for the right of self determination has nothing to do with Islam. Since the majority of population is muslim, most of the Indian people think that way.
Mani Nov 14, 2012 07:17pm
Simple question: what came first... Oppression or the Fight/ Militancy against Oppression?
Saukat ali Nov 14, 2012 06:05pm
I have Zero sympathy for all militants no matter what religion he is coming from. But youth in kashmir has fallen to extremists and i also blame their parents who never raised them as a human first. In todays world, Everyone from other religions has moved forward, became more tolerant, accommodating and less care for personal belief while Pakistanis/other muslims brothers are going backwards and becoming more violent, in-tolerant, indulged in to criminal activities, rioting, killing innocent people, torturing others. Saukat
CHRIS Nov 14, 2012 08:59pm
deepak Nov 14, 2012 11:55pm
Sana any comments on Mothers of the disappeared from Baluchistan?
KashmirFreedom Nov 14, 2012 09:31pm
Freedom fighters are not brain washed. Stop your lies and propoganda. Her agony, cries, and prayers will hunt you, yours, and your criminal military. May Allah hear her cry and send Muslim freedon justice warrors to avenge her...
deepak Nov 15, 2012 10:51pm
Ahmed pakistanis are coming to India not going back. 1. some pakistanis in Indian jail don't want to go back to pakistan. 2. some pakistani came to India for watching cricket match nevere went back. 3. adnan sami pakistani origin don't want to get deported. Show me 1 Indian who wants to visit pakistan and want to stay there.
Naveen Nov 14, 2012 10:25pm
These women trust their sons so much, they can hardly believe when somebody points it out to them that - they could have become terrorists. Has it ever occurred to these women as to why only their sons are missing? Why not the neighbors son? All I can say, if you tell my mom, that I smoked pot, she would swear on god to say her son wouldn't do any such thing, but the facts are completely different.
Truly Nov 15, 2012 03:34am
Hey, being a Pakistani news site why don't you first publish an article about the disappeared persons in Kashmir you administer. That would take Pakistan more ahead in being an integrated nation.
Talk4real Nov 15, 2012 06:16am
You should be ashamed of your self writing such a comment. Be factual and accept that these missing sons have been abducted by Indian Army and then brutally killed.
Observer Nov 15, 2012 03:49pm
Really Hot discussion going on in Dawn,let some truth come out of it. :)
serene Nov 16, 2012 04:54am
u must b an indian muslim....indifferent from sufferings of muslims across the wid killers just in their way...sympathies
asim Nov 16, 2012 02:58am
hunh?? what??
Igloo Nov 16, 2012 02:13am
Disappeared on either side of the control line is a disgrace. But I would be shocked if the numbers on the Pakistan side added up to anything like those on the Indian side. I think many Indians are genuinely unaware of the reality on the Pakistani side. AJK is one of the most peaceful and prosperous parts of Pakistan. Its biggest city is known as little England for good reason.
Taha Nov 16, 2012 07:25am
Fiza.. right. Same story was sketched in that film too, to justify the abduction of young guys. I guess in Nayan's case , a simple movie was enough for him to get brainwashed... very sad
Dev Nov 16, 2012 06:05am
Dev Nov 16, 2012 06:13am
Congratulation Dawn, more Indians are reading Dawn than Pakistanis.Thumbs down is that proof. Take advantage of this readership. Hopefully they will take this positive criticism some day.
Dave Nov 16, 2012 06:15am
War crime............. simply war crime
Seeker Nov 16, 2012 08:42am
If Kashmir is a problem which needs to be solved then it needs a Politician solution not a military or militant solution.
rashid Nov 16, 2012 07:05am
What disappeared persons? Kindly give details.
Ash Nov 16, 2012 06:36am
all possibilities... unidentified gunmen who killed or abducted them can be terrorists. Boys would have taken to terrorism and got killed. Or of course killed by army