Murder Most Foul

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More than 18 months after a 9-year-old boy was abducted and brutally murdered in Gulgam, the police have yet to identify the killers, reports Shakir Ashraf

A file photo of protest against killing of Umar Farooq in Kupwara.

Shareefa Begum, resident of GulgamKupwara is in distress. She keeps looking at bedding and sometimes kisses its pillow. The bedding belonged to her 9-year-old son, Omar Farooq. When he was alive, he was tenderly woken up by Shareefa and kissed on the forehead. Shareefa can’t bear to think that her son is no more.

July 16, ,Omar, , had gone Four days later family recovered his mutilated body on the bank of Nallah Kehmil near Hanjipora village, at least 5 kilometres away from Gulgam.

s broke out in the area Omar’s Kupwara demanding justice for Omar went up .

According to Shareefa, her son had gone with his cousin Joan Mohammad on the day he went missing. “The cousin came early in the morning and insisted that he will take Omar Farooq to Kupwara town. After that, my son didn’t return” Shareefa said in a low voice.

“I went to Jaan Mohammad and asked him if my son was with you and where is he now. He replied that he was no longer with him and had been seen by him playing with children. When I asked the children mentioned by Jaan Mohammad, they denied that Omar was with them”.

Mohammad, she said, was later arrested by the people but let go after three days.

“I don’t know why Mohammad was released,” said Shareefa. “He was a major suspect”.

She claimed the police had also arrested other suspects but had released them after questioning.

Omar’s father Farooq Ahmed said he was not at home but at Tanghdar when he received a call that Omar hadn’t returned home.

“It was shattering news,” he said.“We searched for him everywhere but could not find him.  Locals, police, the army also started the search using sniffer dogs but to no avail. But later somehow we found the body”.

A pall of gloom descended over Gulgam as Omar’s body arrived. The mother Shareefa was distraught with grief. She could not believe that the son “who was given to her by God after seven daughters” had been brutally killed.

Later police sensing that the funeral of the boy would lead to law and order problem forced the family to bury the boy in the night.

Umar Farooq

A year on from the murder, the family is still crying for justice. Gulgamis flooded with posters asking for justice to Omar, one such poster is glued to the door of his house. Omar’s room has his photos on the walls, his school uniform and satchel is also there.

“Every morning when I wake up, I enter the room before going to prepare tea and look at his pictures,” said Shareefa.

Investigative agencies have so far failed to nab the killers. After police could not identify and trace them for fifty days, the case was handed over to Crime Branch which also has failed to track them down.

Nobody also knows the motive behind the gruesome murder.

“It was around the same time that Dr Farooq Abdullah visited Kupwara. I met him. He assured me the killers will be arrested but nothing happened,” said Ahmed.

“Similarly, on the first death anniversary of my beloved son, Shah Faisal, Engineer Rashid and Saif-ullah Mir visited my home and assured me that killers will be arrested. But again nothing happened”.

The family has lost hope now. “We are poor. That is why we won’t get justice,” said Ahmed. “I can’t imagine that a year and a half has passed but killers of my son remain free while my nine-year-old son is in a grave”.

Police, on the other hand, are hopeful that they will catch hold of the killers. “Investigation is still going on. Police are trying its best to get them,” said Dy SP Firdous Ahmed, the investigative officer of the case. “We assure people that the killers will be caught”.

Meanwhile, the family is moving from pillar to post to get the investigative agencies to trace the killers. After moving the court to hand the case over to Crime Branch, the family approached State Human Rights Commission and following its closure due to revocation of Article 370, the parents filed a case with National Human Rights Commission.

“Police claim the suspects are under house arrest but they are outside the state,” said Advocate Imtiyaz Ahmed. “Ironically they shouldn’t leave the state”.

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