A Letter Unread

Twenty two years after Farooqi’s two teenage sons were killed in cold blood inside their home by BSF men life turned into a long struggle for justice. Farooqi fought not only the indifferent system but within himself to stay sane to keep his sons memories alive. Faisal Shabir Bhat, narrates the tale of a once happy families doom

Imtiyaz Farooqi (encircled) in this file pic of his school days.
Imtiyaz Farooqi (encircled) in this file pic of his school days.

“I hope you have reached home safely and are enjoying a lot. As soon as you receive this letter send a reply expressing your joyfulness and also mention when you are coming back to Bangalore. You might have been waiting for your good result. I assure you the same. No more special thing to write.”

This is the transcript of the letter Mehmood-ul Hassan Farooqi, received on the tenth day of his elder son’s death. The letter was written by one of his son’s teachers from a Bangalore engineering college.

On 31st July, 1992 Farooqi, an accountant with state finance department living at Lalbazar Srinagar had gone to Hazratbal shrine to offer Friday prayers. He was happy that his elder son, Tajuddin Farooqi, 19, who was a first year engineering student in Bangalore, was home for vacations.

Tajuddin was home after spending a year in Bangalore. He was excited that soon his first year result will be out. On that day, Tajuddin and his younger brother, Imtiyazudin, who was in 8th standard, were watching summer Olympics broadcasted live on Doordarshan from Barcelona, Spain. Imtiyazudin, 13, was home as most of the Srinagar was shut because of a strike. It was after a year that both brothers were home together. Carefree and undisturbed by the volatile conflict that has engulfed Kashmir since the rigging of 1987 elections that made youngsters lose faith in Indian democracy and pick gun.

At the same time, a vehicle of the paramilitary Border Security Force (BSF) which was on a routine patrol was ambushed by militants. One of the BSF personal was killed while six others were injured. The attackers fled from the spot. Reinforcements from the BSF’s 30 battalion were called and the area was cordoned off in search of the militants.

A group of about 6 to 7 BSF men entered the lane leading to Farooqi’s house. The security men jumped the fence of his house and started knocking the door. Hearing the knock Mr Farooqi’s younger son Imtiyazudin presuming it to be his father rushed to open the door. The moment he opened the door, BSF men fired a volley of bullets leaving him dead instantly. His family members including his elder brother Tajuddin and two sisters rushed out to see what had happened. Seeing Imtiyazudin dead they were in a state of shock.

The BSF men caught hold of Tajuddin, dragged him on the ground, and took him along with them. They took him to a lane outside the house and shot him in the chest. His two sisters, who were crying and wailing, tried to save him from the BSF men but were repeatedly beaten with gun butts and pushed inside the house. The fear in the neighborhood was such that nobody came out to save Tajuddin. He breathed his last in the lane waiting for help.

Tajuddin Farooqi
Tajuddin Farooqi

After killing the two brothers the BSF men entered the house of one of their neighbors, Abdul Rashid Kakroo. He had some guests visiting him. One of his guests was fired upon and was seriously injured. The other one was hit with a gun butt on his head inflicting grievous injuries to him as well.

Kakroo took out his car to take the injured to the hospital. No sooner he drove his car outside his house he too was fired upon by the BSF men leaving him injured.  Kakroo and his two relatives were lucky to survive after undergoing treatment for a year at a Srinagar hospital.

Farooqi, unaware of all these happenings was returning home, after offering prayers at the shrine. On reaching Kanitar, a place about half a kilometer away from his house, he heard some gun shots.

Some people told him that an encounter had started between the militants and the BSF men at Lalbazar and it was not safe to move towards the area. He could also hear someone saying that one of his neighbors Kakroo had been fired upon by the BSF men and was injured. However there was no news about his family and he began to worry about their safety.

The firing intensified and he along with other people took shelter in a house. He headed home in the evening only when the firing subsided.

Moving towards his house he could sense an eerie silence engulfing the whole area, with not even a single soul to be seen anywhere along the way.

The silence however was broken as he neared his home. He could see a sea of people outside his house. That moment as he stepped into his house did change his life forever. The site of his two young boys lying life less on the floor made Farooqi crumble, unconscious just about where his boys were lying.

Those however were not the only deaths in the family that day. Farooqui’s father in law, who had come to have a last look at his daughter’s dead kids, had a fatal cardiac arrest.

The news of the cold blooded killings spread like wildfire throughout the Srinagar city. People from every corner of the city participated in the funeral of the boys.

The incident left Farooqui and his family distraught. But what added insult to the injury was the visit of senior police and BSF officials to his house. The officials apologized to the family and promised justice.

Twenty-one-years later the family still awaits the promise to be fulfilled.

A first information report (FIR) 94/162 under section 302, 307 and 427 was registered against the personnel of BSF’S 30 battalion at Soura-Lalbazar police station and the investigations began. However the Municipal authorities who issued the death certificates were never questioned regarding the case. The autopsy report of the victims, which ascertains the cause of deaths, was never taken into consideration.  The family members and two other persons who are prime witness to the killings were never summoned by the investigators.

Farooqi approached the National Human Rights Commission of India which sought a response from the then Chief Secretary of the state Ashok Jaitley. He also approached the members of the Indian parliament. However there was no fruitful outcome.

His pursuing the case at various levels however bore fruit in form of the threats he started getting. Farooqi was asked to withdraw the case or he will be killed.

In September 1997, Farooqi was summoned by a military court at Qazigund in south Kashmir. Farooqi was asked to be present at the hearing for the trial of the accused BSF men.

But when Farooqi received the summons, the date set for the trials had already passed. Farooqi says that he would have still gone to the Army camp, he was summoned to but he was being threatened regularly.

Besides, in nineties Qazigund in South Kashmir was a bastion of renegades (government mercenaries) who would kill people on will. Farooqi fearing for his life decided not to go there “It could have been a trap to kill me,’’ he says.

According to Farooqi there have been some unconfirmed reports that on 26 December 2000 Soura police station had presented a challan regarding the case in a BSF court at Sanat Nagar Srinagar. While it is being claimed by the BSF that the military court had deemed all the six men as accused no information has been intimated to Farooqi’s family.

 “I don’t know whether they have been hanged, killed or jailed. I want the killers of my sons to be punished,’’ says Farooqi.

Farooqi, who is living with his wife, and his two daughters have been married since, has lost the purpose of his life. He even tried to commit suicide many times. Once he brought rat poison to mix it with his meal and end his life. However the responsibility of marrying off his daughters came to his mind and prevented him from taking the extreme step.

A carom board, football, cricket bat and some books fill his son’s room, which has been locked since their death. Farooqi’s both sons were good at academics and always obtained good grades in their examinations. “My only aim, then, was to give my sons good education and a better future but alas destiny had some other plans,’’ he sighs.

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