It is a year since a series of teenage killings that stirred 2010 began. Ikhlaq Qadri meets a few victim families and finds them either striving for justice or struggling to reconcile.
Sitting in a corner of a small kitchen, Firdousa looks frail, and talks little. It is a year since she lost her son Wamiq Farooq to a teargas shell on January 31.
Her husband brings her tea. “We can’t sleep during night,” said Farooq Ahmad, her husband adding that both of them have developed health problems.
In a cupboard close by, they have kept trophies, certificates and report cards, Wamiq had earned in his short life.
“I have kept these close to my heart, and always will,” says Firdousa.
A 7th standard student, Wamiq would excel in studies, and the family often talks about his academic achievements.
“He got 98.03 percent in class 6th and vowed to work even harder,” Firdousa said with tears in her eyes.
One of the trophies Wamiq earned for a science exhibition was handed over by his school to the family after his death.
“The chairman of Caset School (where Wamiq studied) called him a ‘gifted child’. Political leaders boast about the man who qualified IAS, but they maintain silence over my son’s killing,” Farooq Ahmad, Wamiq’s father, said.
“I belong to labour class still my son was a star performer. He used to teach his elder brothers. He was not a stone pelter but a hope for my better future. I fulfilled his requirements even at the cost of sacrificing the basic household requirements,”
Firdousa says Wamiq wanted to preserve his trophies, “Keep these preserved so that I can show it to my children, he would say.”
Since Wamiq fell to a teargas fired by a policeman in Rajouri Kadal, the family is not only trying to reconcile with the turn of events, but fighting for justice too.
At a seminar in Delhi, Firdousa’s sister event confronted President, Pratibha Devi Singh Patil, asking her why the family lost their son. She also showed trophies and certificates to Patil and asked her to get the accused punished.
When Wamiq was killed last year, police had then said that it has suspended one of its officers for “firing a teargas shell in a callous and irresponsible manner”.
But after the family sought court’s help to get murder charges filed against the policeman, the police retracted its statement, and described Wamiq as a miscreant. The police statement added that Wamiq was part of a stone pelting mob, and was hit by a teargas fired by police in self defence.
“(Abdul) Khaliq and (Muhammad) Akram killed my son in broad daylight,” said Farooq referring to the two policeman accused of firing the teargas that killed Wamiq.
An FIR 12/2010 under section 307, 148, 149, 336, 353 of RPC is lodged with the police.
A judicial enquiry report submitted by Sub-Judge Passenger Tax, Masrat Shaheen, before the Chief Judicial Magistrate Srinagar stated that the situation in area was normal and no incident of violence had taken place. It also revealed that the accused assistant sub-inspector, Abdul Khaliq without any provocation fired a tear smoke shell hitting Wamiq.
The enquiry report stated that the accused had committed offence punishable under Ranbir Penal Code.
The police has now submitted the case diary in the court.
“Senior police official presented the diary and admitted that Abdul Khaliq accompanied by Muhammad Akram was entrusted with one shell which has been fired,” said Aijaz Ahmad Dar council of Wamiq Farooq.
“We are fighting to get the FIR registered or issue summon against the accused policemen as all evidences are against him,” said Dar.
The family has not lost the hope.
“If we don’t get justice then everything should be closed down,” Firdousa said.
Days before Wamiq’s killing, one more youngster had lost his life in similar circumstances.
Dalgate resident, Inayat Khan, was allegedly fired upon by CRPF personnel in Maisuma on Jan 7, and then trampled upon, and beaten with gun butts as he lay injured on the road. He was the first youngster killed in 2010. As death count of young men and children continued to rise through a bloody year, Inayat was hardly remembered.
“This is unfortunate that death of teenaged Inayat never got attention and was forgotten as if he never existed,” said, Ishfaq Ahmad, Inayat’s neighbour. Her mother has not seen his grave.
“She attempted several times to see his grave but we stopped her. She is under tremendous mental stress,” said his cousin Muhammad Ovais Khan.
Inayat had left his home to attend a computer Institute, he had recently joined. It was his second day in the institute and also his second ever visit to Lalchowk, his family says.
When Inayat was returning from the institute, there was some disturbance in the area. The CRPF men, the family alleged, fired a bullet at Inayat which hit him in the lower armpit and then trampled him under shoes. Before losing his consciousness Inayat had given contact number of his family to a passerby, who informed his family. Inayat was operated upon in SKIMS but could not survive. The family believes that he would have survived the bullet injury but succumbed to the internal injuries caused by trampling.
Inayat, had recently passed his 10th class examination from Child Care Public School. Up to 8th standard he studied in Army Public School Badami Bagh.
The family says he was very sensitive, sensible, obedient and responsible. He would help family financially, by doing some mobile repairing and downloading.
“He used to help financially as he was well aware about the mobile technology and downloading,” said Ovais Khan.
Unlike Wamiq’s family, this one has lost hopes of justice and have decided not to fight. “I can’t get my son back so what justice will suffice my loss,” said Tasleema.
When valley was still reeling under tension, following Wamiq’s death, one more teenager fell to bullets fired by a BSF party.
A resident of Brein Nishat, Zahid Farooq fell to the anger of a BSF officer who ordered his sepoys to fire at a group of boys, allegedly jeering him.
For Zahid’s family, the year gone by, has been a year of a tough fight for justice.
‘Please return home soon,’ the last words Parveena remembers she had told her son when he went out to play cricket that morning.
A year after, she often stares at the entrance of their house, hoping, her son would return.
Seeing her mother wailing four year old-Aqsa says, “Baya je yina jahazas manz wapas, sui ani asi cheez. Sui chu na mai jigar panun (brother will return in a plane, and bring us gifts).” Aqsa believes her brother is pursuing Computer Engineering in the US.
Zahid was the only son of his parents. On Feb 5, 2010, Zahid was returning home with friends after rain interrupted their cricket match. A 68 Battalion BSF party headed by commandant R K Birdi was passing by the area, when it hit a road block. Angered allegedly by some remarks of the children passing by, Birdi party chased them and fired upon them. Zahid fell to one of the bullets. A FIR no. 04/2010 under section 302/ 109, 201 RPC was lodged in police station Nishat which said ‘some unknown men fired at Zahid’.
It took weeks for the BSF to admit the involvement of its men in the shooting. A police investigation and an internal BSF inquiry threw up Commandant Birdi and constable Lakhvinder Kumar as suspects. Though both Kumar and Birdi were, in an unprecedented move, handed over to police, the family’s fight for justice has not been smooth.
BSF has succeeded to transfer the case to General Security Forces Court, though the state government is still challenging the order.
Birdi was booked under section 302-murder, 201- destruction of evidence, 307- attempt to murder, 120 B- criminal conspiracy of RPC.
The charge sheet was filed on April 6, 2010 but the BSF challenged the prosecution under section 80 of BSF act and sought its transfer to GSFC.
The prosecution contested that the accused were not on active duty at the time on incident and the victim was a civilian, so the case does not fall under any of the exceptions provided under section 47 of BSF Act.
“That it being a cold blooded murder of a teen aged boy without any provocation and hence case is triable exclusively by a criminal court as such provisions of section 80 of BSF act are not attracted,” the prosecution said.
However, on November 25, 2010 Chief Judicial Magistrate Y P Bourney passed judgment to transfer the case to GSFC. The family is feeling dejected by the court decision and had approached High Court against CJM’s order. As per the Family the case has 86 witnesses including 14 BSF personnel.
“State government is fighting as well to seek justice. If this case does not get justice, the rest can imagine their fate,” said Shabir Ahmad, Zahid’s cousin.
The family is skeptical about getting justice from a BSF court but are determined to fight it out.
“We cannot expect any justice from these courts. We will move to International Court of Justice,” said Shabir.
The family alleged that the BSF personnel under custody were treated as “guests” by the state police.
The family said that Birdi’s brother was a judge in Gurdaspur, and alleged that they got many phone calls from outside the state, asking to make a deal and back out of the case.
“I received number of phone calls. But my son was not an item to be sold,” Farooq said.
A year after Zahid’s death, the family says their “fight against injustice” will continue.