Sikh Boy ‘Disappeared’
Among the many faces of mothers with “disappeared” sons, sitting at the Pratap park of Srinagar, Aagya Kaur was one of the faces. A part of the monthly sit in protest and a mother whose son was “picked up” and never returned back, Aagya has spent the last 14 years looking for her son Yashpal, “My son was not a militant, why did they pick him up”, she says.
A young boy of 13, who was still in school and going to tuitions for extra classes, Yashpal was Aagya’s elder son. With her husband paralyzed due to an accident, Aagya worked to keep the house running. Working in a hospital and an educational institution as a help staff, she kept the stove burning. “I was working as a peon in the SSM College so I can keep food on the table. It is difficult for me because I do not know if I have lost my son or if he is still alive.”
After the disappearance of her son, Aagya would often dream about giving him books. She is not educated herself but had a dream to educate her sons. Yashpal, being the elder son, was the first in the family to be educated. Aagya says that she had huge hopes from him. “I do not know if there were other Sikh boys who became militants. My son was not one, he was too young,” she says.
It was Ghulam Nabi Parray in the SSM administration who helped Aagya to get her younger son, Rabinder educated. “He helped me in getting my other son educated. He did his higher secondary and Bachelors in Education and is currently doing LLB. I thought I will take all the suffering upon myself and keep my family protected. I worked so my family has a better life.”
Aagya thinks that the way the government has reacted makes her think if her fight is really worth it. She was about to get a government job but as fate would have it, the order that would place her under employment was taken back. She went to SSM again for employment but there are no posts.
Sitting amongst women whose family members have “disappeared”, Aagya hopes that there will be an enquiry or a miracle which will bring back her son. “I will keep coming here and sit in solidarity with other women who have suffered the same. We cannot give up hope. Hope is what keeps me going,” she says.
Er Rashid, the independent lawmaker representing Langate constituency, is always a news maker. This time he choose the revival of the constitution of J&K by celebrating the first ‘Kashmir National Day’ to ‘protect’ the ‘specialty’ of the state by hoisting the state flag and singing the national anthem for the first time in the history of J&K.
Just to remind, Jammu and Kashmir, erstwhile state of Kashmir, after its accession with Indian Union has its own flag and constitution which was adopted on the 7th day of June 1952. But since its adoption, not even at a single point of time ever was Kashmir Day celebrated as is done by other state nations. But as is said, Er Rashid does what others don’t have bleak idea of.
“Zulm Bhi Rahay, Aman Bhi Ho… Kya Mumkin Hai, Tum Hi Kaho…Ye Jeevan Bhi Kya Jeevan Hai…Aag Lagay Iss Jeevan Ko,” this is how Rashid started his speech to an odd 1000 gathering. Giving historical significance of the day (June 7), Rashid said that the constituent assembly of the state of J&K has given its own constitution, state flag and national anthem. However, he said, “India has been eroding it since 1953 and now Kashmir has woken up and Kashmiris shall now revive their identity.”
He alleged, “India has been cutting parts of the body of Kashmir state into regions and sub regions,” he said. Adding, “We shall not let any more erosion of Kashmir’s identity.”
He said, “We respect India, its Constitution but Kashmir’s national flag and national anthem is equal to the stature of its flag and national anthem.”
Reports said that the students pursuing law course in Kashmir University and different affiliated colleges in Jammu and Kashmir have been studying only Indian Penal Code (IPC) and RPC stands deleted from their syllabus which, according to legal experts, is vital part of Article 370.
As of now, the cases in Jammu and Kashmir courts is still practised on the basis of RPC but as the contemporary education set up goes in valley’s highest seat of learning, it is feared that the future lawyers will not be able to practise the same and hence the experts say it is the “deliberate attempt to erode constitution of the J&K”. They said that RPC used to be the part of the law syllabus before 90’s, however, after the armed rebellion broke out in Kashmir in 1990 the syllabus regarding RPC went missing from the law courses in the state. “We have our own constitution, national flag, criminal penal code which we used to study as part of syllabus in our LLB course, even in other Universities out of JK, Kashmiri students were asked to read J&K Constitution and RPC with other local Laws,” they said.
Politics apart, last Wednesday was different for separatists, at least. Since his arrest the day he came back from New Delhi, Syed Ali Geelani broke the police cordon and took out a protest march as authorities denied entry to audience as a seminar was scheduled on the killings of 2010.
Among the invitees were fragmented group of Hurriyat led by peacenik Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. Shabir Shah and Nayeem Khan were the attraction. Since 2008 uprising, this was the first ‘get – together’ of the separatists. As Geelani moved, forcibly, out of his residence-cum-office, he was joined by the senior Hurriyat (JK) leaders. They took out a rally up to the central Jamia Masjid in uptown Hyderpora area.
The ‘united’ face of the Hurriyat put security apparatus in to a tight spot. As the gathering grew bigger, the pro freedom leaders held a sit-in and the busy Airport road was blocked for almost two hours. In between, the leaders addressed the growing numbers one by one.
Reports said that senior police officers were seen ‘abusing’ their juniors as how come Geelani came out of his residence?
“Heavy deployment of police was put in place not only on the main gate of Geelani’s residence but on the Airport road as well and the men in uniform did not allow anybody to move towards the venue,” Hurriyat (G) spokesperson had said.
The breakaway faction leaders of Mirwaiz led Hurriyat walked hand-in-hand with Geelani and his deputy Muhammad Ashraf Khan Sehrai. Chanting slogans in favour of Azadi, they said that the Pandit brethren are welcome to their native homes but ‘safe and securitized’ zones won’t be allowed. “They are part and parcel of Kashmiri ethos and they should be allowed to live at their native places.”
However, the leaders in one voice opposed the move of Modi government to permanently settle Pakistan refugees in Jammu. Geelani termed it a ‘design to change demography of Jammu and Kashmir’.
Hurriyat patriarch Syed Geelani also said that if Narendra Modi is so proud of his ‘justice giving system’, let him start from Right to Self Determination to Kashmiris.
As the ‘united face’ came a surprise to many in political circles, Hurriyat (G) spokesperson said that ‘like minded’ people shall be consulted on regular basis on critical issues though there is no ‘unification move’ as of now.
Besides, remembering the slain youth, an exclusive book on their ‘martyrdom’ of 128 youth in 2010 was also scheduled to be released on the occasion.
As Geelani along with Shabir Shah and Nayeem Khan, after peacefully dispersing off from Airport road, reached Hurriyat (G) headquarters they presented a copy of Holy Quran and a book on the tragedy to the victim families.
Reports said that emotional scenes were witnessed when some family members of the victims broke down. “My lone son was brutally killed by forces and am still awaiting justice,” a woman said amid sobs while Geelani consoled her.