Scared of Life

Three sisters lost their husbands to conflict in entirely different circumstances, and on the way lost their aspirations and hope. Sameer Yasir reports

As you enter this small inadequately-lit room, photographs of three young men hanging on the opposite wall smile straight into your eyes. They belong to the three sons-in-law of Abdul Ahad Lone. The three men lost their lives during the twenty-year old conflict in the valley.

Lone, a retired peon lives with his three widowed daughters in a dilapidated house at Sheeri village in Baramulla district.  
 
Ten month-old-Irfan was just three days old when he lost his father, Nazir Ahmad. Nazir, the husband of Lone’s third daughter, Ruqaiya, was shot dead during the 2010 summer unrest during a protest in Pattan area. Live of Lone’s daughters were ruined by the conflict. Their husbands died in three entirely different situations.

In early eighties, Lone had married off his eldest daughter, Zareefa, in the neighboring village of Badmula. After 16 years of marriage, Zareefa, her husband and their three children had a happy life until their eldest son was picked by the army allegedly for having links with militants.

Mohammed Sultan, Zareefa’s husband, a labourer, would go to the nearby army camp everyday to beg for his son’s release.  After repeated pleading with the army officers and many visits to the camp his son after two months incarceration.

“During his visits to the army camp, the militants had been watching him. We received several warnings asking my husband to refrain from going to army camp for our son’s release,” recalls Zareefa.

She says, “It was Thursday and after the dinner my husband went to the wash room. I was with my children in a room when electricity went off. We thought it was a usual power cut but someone, we learned later, had cut the power lines. Just minutes later we heard some people outside the house speaking in Urdu. Then there were some gunshots. When we went outside, he died on the spot”.

She says it was difficult to recognize in the dark who they were.

Zareefa lives with her three grown up children. Her eldest son got a job after four years of his father’s killing and he runs the household now.

Lone’s another daughter Shameema was married to the infamous militant-turned pro-government gunmen, Ali Mohammed Bhat popularly known as Sher Dil.

He had been well-known militant for several years in Sheeri area of Baramulla. After his surrender, he joined the Special Operations group of police (SOG) and was appointed as the in-charge of the SOG camp at Kawhaar.

On December 28, 1998 Ali Mohammed alias Sheer Dil, accompanied by his aides, was killed in Mongam village near Wagoora, in the outskirts of Baramulla town. According to Shameema, they had stopped near a shop and after a few minutes there was a blast. Sheer Dil died on the spot.

“This happened just a day after I had tried to persuade him to leave SOG and live a normal life. But he never agreed. He told me that if he leaves SOG, militants won’t spare him,” says Lone.

After almost eleven years, happiness seemed to return to the Lone family. This time Ruqiya, Ahad Lone’s third daughter, was getting married.

“I was happy that I am marrying off my third daughter to a man who doesn’t have anything to do with militancy or security forces. He was a baker by profession and lived a simple life,” Lone said.

But on the July 30, 2010, 24-year-old Nazir Ahmad, Ruqiya’s husband was shot in the head outside his shop at Pattan.

“Police said he died of a heart attack but when the dead body was transferred from Pattan police station to Sheeri, the doctors, who examined the body said that he had a bullet in his head,” says Ruqaiya

Lone says he is scared for his fourth daughter now, who is getting married next year.

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