Scripted in pain

A calligrapher with local Urdu dailies, Ghulam Nabi Mahajan was killed after watching his son die at the hands of troopers during a crack down in his locality. Shazia Yousuf traces story of Mahajan and his family.

“They have killed Naen Soeb” Ghulam Nabi Mahajan yelled to his wife Hajra as he opened the door of his house. And Hajira ran out, barefoot, gasping. Fearful eyes peeping from windowpanes, guns from the nearby bunker following her steps – as she ran through the deserted street, past her 70 year old husband.

The 66 year old Hajira reached her son Aijaz, 26, who has been fired at in the eyes. Taking his bruised head in her lap and listening to his groans pleaded him to hold his breath, till she found help. “Oh my neighbours. Wouldn’t you come out. They killed my one more son today,” Hajra yells. None dares to come out. With tears rolling effortlessly, she takes off her head cloth, puts it on Aijaz’s face, crying, collapsing and caressing her son like never before.

An hour passes, Hajira’s attempts do not stop but Aijaz’s breath does.
“She was like a meatch (insane), she ran around his body for several minutes, barefooted, bareheaded, I thought she lost her senses,” says their neighbour Abdul Rehman, who witnessed the ordeal from her house.

Troopers fire towards her trying to silence Hajira’s wails which only grow louder. And louder.

Exhausted, Hajira moves towards her house to share the grief with her injured husband. Hajra thought he would be fine – fine enough to share her grief with. As she opens the door of the house, she finds him dead, unattended.

In her rush to run for her son, Hajra had not noticed Mahajan falling soon after he yelled. He had been shot too.

A renowned calligrapher of valley, Ali Mohammad Mahajan worked working with Urdu newspaper Hamadard and the Daily Aftab. A resident of Braripora, Nawakadal in Srinagar, he lived with his wife Hajira and two sons.

The family met its first tragedy on May 21, 1990 when elder son Mohammad Amin returning from a funeral of a friend’s daughter received bullets when security forces opened fire on Mirwaiz Molvi Farooq’s funeral procession.
Foziya was in 8th and Tanveer in 2nd standard. The same day, Amin’s uncle Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din Mahajan died of shock.

After his shock Mahajan continued to work at the age of 68 to feed his son’s widow and two orphans, “He never cried in front of his children but he was broken within,” recalls Mahajan’s daughter Firdousa.

Younger son Aijaz started a business and the family was planning to get him married. “I and Hajira went shopping for the bride. He was getting engaged next week,” says Syeda, Aijaz’s aunt.

In the morning of September 29 1992, the family heard a crackdown announcement from nearby Tarabal area. Mahajan decided to stay indoors and asked Aijaz to stay in too.

The crackdown was over by afternoon, paramilitary men boarded vehicle to leave, when militants opened fire. Agitated troopers started beating people and dragged them out of their homes.

Mahajan was working in his room on the top floor when he saw troops dragging out people. He took it as a crackdown and decided to come out with his son to avoid any beating and humiliation. Mahajan went downstairs asked Aijaz to come out too. The two were heading out when Mahajan returned to give keys to Hajira in case she needed it during house search by troops.

By then Aijaz was out in the street. “First he was beaten and then they fired him in his eye and he fell. When Mahajan Sahab opened the door he saw his son lying flat on ground. He turned back and screamed come ‘they killed our Nann Seab (Aijaz’s pet name) too, but then he too was fired in his head and he fell down on the door. His cap fell from his head,” recalls Abdul Rehman.

For more than two hours the bodies lay unmoved. Sakeena and Foziya were crying over Mahajans body and Hajira was running between the two bodies.
At dusk the bodies were taken to police control room, “It was around 9 pm and some neighbour called me and I was taken there in a police vehicle. When I reached there I saw people taking out their dead bodies,” recalls Firdousa.
Mahajan was a favourite calligrapher of eminent writers like Ghulam Nabi Khayal and Shafi Shaida. He had lost his job in Radio Kashmir during Ghulam Muhammad Bakhshi’s regime over a programme that irked the government. Mahajan joined Hamdard and later Daily Aftab. He also owned a bookshop – MB booksellers.

The tragedy left three women in their house. Firdousa, and her husband Mohammad Ashraf Khan who was also brother of Sakeena shifted to Mahajan’s house along with their three daughters.

“My mother went numb like a corpse. We pretended to be happy for each another but happiness was long gone,” Firdousa says.

After three years in the house, Firdousa and her huband moved back to their house. Hajira too moved with them and never visited her house during her eight year stay at her daughter’s place. She was only brought there in 2001 for her funeral.

After Hajira’s death the house was sold to a neighbour along with the belongings of the family.

“We didn’t take out a single thing from that house except the photo albums. Later we burnt them too as the memories were too painful. We never look at the house when we pass by that street,” says Sakeena.

Sakeena and Tanveer live in a house constructed by Sakeena’s brothers at Sadrabal. Tanveer got a job under SRO 43 some years back and Foziya is married and settled in Malaysia.

After her first son’s death Hajira would often cry and say that there can be nothing more tragic than his death. She didn’t know there was something that will turn her into a living corpse.

“My mother left silently. She was numb. I don’t know what was going on within her. She never complained after that – went where ever she was taken. I don’t know if she needed anything. May be she wanted to cry but could not pour out her heart,” Firdousa says.

“That is what pains me more…”

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