Minor’s Virtual Crusade

Watching her immobile grandfather reconciled to the defeat in getting killers of his son to justice, a minor girl opens a Facebook page to fight in the virtual world, reports Saima Bhat

Hafsa Riyaz, 11, a resident of Surtang Rainawari, a class 6th student, lives just a few yards away from a CRPF bunker. A number of times, her family says, the CRPF personnel complained that whenever Hafsa passes by, she stops and start shouting: ‘You are killers!” They say she even throw stones on them. Unlike her sisters and classmates who wish to become doctors and engineers, Hafsa wants to be a ‘BSF officer’. Reason: she wants to bring killers of her uncle, Showkat Ahmad Showkat, to justice. Showkat was allegedly killed by the joint party of BSF and Ikhwani’s during the night of April 08/09, 2002. The family says he was killed for just being the namesake of a wanted militant.

That night, Muhammad Amin Zargar, Showkat’s father and Hafsa’s grandfather, says they were watching TV when Showkat, then 25, was taken away. Showkat was Zargar’s second child.

Zargar, from a middle-class family, was working with Auqaf press as a head machine man. He retired same year back when Showkat was killed. Since then, the struggle to bring justice to his son became his prime occupation.

That night forces were in search of an active militant with the same name, Showkat Ahmad Zargar and coincidentally, with the same parentage. But Showkat has all of his documents: marks certificates with the name ‘Showkat Ahmad Showkat’.

The only difference between the two Showkat’s was of address. The militant reportedly lived in the nearby Chana Mohalla locality of Rainawari.

When the Forces jumped in their home at 10:45 pm on April 8, Showkat disclosed his identity.  Before leaving with Showkat, raiders locked the rest of the family, parents, sister and youngest brother, Riyaz, in a room and switched off the lights.

But Riyaz jumped out of the window and opened the door and the whole family rushed out and raised an alarm. But Showkat was bundled in a gypsy and they ran away.

The family, then, rushed to Khanyar and Rainawari police stations. But the cops said they were not aware of any arrests. “I contacted the then Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) over the phone and he assured us that nothing will happen to Showkat. He said Showkat might have been picked up on the basis of mere doubt and will be released soon.” And now the family believes whatever happened was well planned.

But around 1:30 am, they heard gunshots in the nearly Miskeen Bagh area. Next morning everybody was shocked when cops from local police station informed family to collect Showkat’s body from police control room. “Somehow I removed the blood-stained shroud and saw bullet-ridden body of my beloved son,” Zargar said. “He was severely tortured. He bore bullet injuries on his chest as his arm was broken, there were bruises all over his body.”

Showkat’s sister was scheduled to get married in June. After Showkat’s murder, the psychologically disturbed sister was an unwilling bride.  But she was married off.

“Showkat and his sister were too fond of each other. He had printed the invitation cards with his name as host and done all the shopping. Years later I believe that decision was right otherwise she could have turned a pagal,” says Zargar.

A year later, Zargar’s wife, who was a cardiac patient died of heart attack.

Prior to 2002, Showkat was first picked up by BSF’s 49 battalion on November 1, 2000. But luckily that time he could convince the paramilitary that he was not the fellow they were looking for. But Showkat’s miseries did not end there. He was arrested many times and each time the BSF could not establish any crime against him, he would walk home. This case led Showkat to get a job of a daily wager in the Deputy Commissioner’s office. It was kind of compensation for the fabrication he faced.

After struggling for justice for 15 years Amin is a shattered man now. After retirement, he used to visit SHRC and other places on his bicycle. For last two years, he is dependent on his youngest child Riyaz, for his mobility. A COPD patient, he has developed cardiac problems. What he has now is the collection of different newspapers in which Showkat’s story was printed all these years, his attendance at DC office and some Xerox of official communication of different offices investigating the case.

SHRC had directed the police to register a case against the accused and investigate the matter. Followed by protests, the government on April 15, 2002, ordered a probe and appointed the then Additional Deputy Commissioner as inquiry officer.

In his report, the officer picked up some holes in BSF’s claims on Showkat’s killing. The ADC confirmed that the deceased was an employee in the Revenue department and that he was a passport holder as well.

The family claims that they won the case in SHRC and the case was shifted to crime branch for more investigations. But the family is still waiting for justice and compensation.

“Before September 2014 deluge even if the case was going at snail’s pace but I had a satisfaction that the file is complete with Crime branch of the police. The investigating officer, in CID, had given his report proving family’s version right but that file is lost now,” says Zargar, who now feels that he can’t fight it out.

But the old man seemingly is succeeded by his granddaughter as a fighter. On Showkat’s 15th death anniversary in 2017, Hafsa had generated a Facebook post as an appeal for her uncle’s justice. She has tagged officials from DC office to police personnel.” Can the virtual campaign help Hafsa in the real word?

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