The families of most of the people killed during the five months of unrest have been paid cash compensation, while some refuse to accept it saying it is akin to selling “martyrs’ blood”. Aliya Bashir reports.
For some, accepting compensation means “selling martyr’s blood” but for many who lost their dear ones since June 11, compensation is just a compulsion.
With Kashmir witnessing 111 deaths, most of them teenagers, almost every next of kins (NoKs) of those killed have received cash compensation from the government. No compensation has been paid to any of the hundreds, injured in police action since June 11.
The deputy commissioners (DCs) of the concerned districts, say that almost all the families who lost a member to current unrest have been have been paid cash compensation. North Kashmir’s Baramulla district suffered the highest fatalities with 38 killings followed by Srinagar with 21deaths.
It was after All Party Delegation headed by Home Minister P Chidambaram that visited Kashmir on Sep 20, 2010, that Government of India announced eight-point package which included Rs five Lakh compensation to the families of those killed since June 11, 2010. The move was aimed at cooling down tempers in the valley, especially of the youth who were out on the streets breaking curfews and confronting police and paramilitaries.
The family of Tufail Ahmed Matoo in old city is a glaring example of the people who are of the belief that receiving any sort of compensation was tantamount to “selling of their son’s blood”. Tufail was killed by a teargas canister on June 11, sparking large-scale protests across Kashmir.
“The government can’t compensate the dust of Tufail’s shoe let alone of his body,” says Muzaffar Ahmed Shah, Tufail’s uncle. “We are proud that our son died as a martyr and he will continue to remain as a martyr.”
He says the family would prefer to die of hunger than receiving compensation. For those who received the money, Muzaffar has a message: “It (money) is not going to stay for ever. Money comes and goes. I appeal all those who received the money, don’t bow before the killers in lieu of a few lakh rupees.”
The family members of slain Javaid Ahmed Malla and Rayees Ahmed of Khonmoh, echo similar feelings. “They are martyrs and will remain martyrs. A martyr doesn’t have any price,” they say.
However, those who have accepted the cash compensation for their slain kin don’t think so. Ghulam Muhammad (name changed) of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district says, “Yes we have received the money as compensation for my slain son, who was killed in police firing in September. But this doesn’t mean we have sold the blood of our son, no way.”
With pain of losing a breadwinner son visible on his wrinkled face, he says, “compensation means compulsions” also. “There are so many things which forced us to receive money. He (slain son) has left behind two little daughters. Who will take care of them,” the old man asked.
Similarly, those who signed the papers to get Rs 5 lakh are little hesitant to say even a small ‘yes’ when asked, whether they have received the money? They don’t want to reveal their identities. But they justify taking the cash compensation.
“What will happen to my young daughter who turned a widow just after 20 days of her marriage. She has developed serious psychiatric ailments,” says Sheikh Ahmed, a resident of north Kashmir. He was quick to add that Rs 5 lakh compensation would be spent on the treatment of her daughter. “I will try to save some money so that she could live after my death,” he said.
North Kashmir’s Baramulla remained the hub of over-four month long agitation. The area witnessed violent protests inflicting serious causalities on police and CRPF as well. Recording 38 deaths, the district attracted the attention of Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, who toured many areas of Baramulla, which was followed by serious interaction with the various groups including fruit growers.
The home minister promised immediate redress of the problem of people of North. Deputy Commissioner Baramulla Bashir Ahmed said they identified 36 out of 38 deaths for the compensation. “All the 36 have been provided with the Rs 5 lakh compensation cheques,” he said. “Rest of the two cases are in the pipeline.”
Additional DC, Srinagar, Mukhtar-ul-Aziz said in Srinagar that they identified 17 cases for cash compensation as per the latest guidelines from the New Delhi. “13 of the 17cases have accepted the cash compensation. Four cases have rejected the relief,” he said.
He said there were no instructions for any cash compensation or assistance for those who lost their lives before June 11 or for the injured in these last four months of unrest. “Families of those who got injured also approach us. We are looking into these cases as well,” the ADC Srinagar said.
Deputy Commissioner, Islamabad, Jaipal Singh said: “In our district, 14 cases were identified. Of which, 12 were from Islamabad one from Kulgam and one from Pulwama and all the victims were provided with the compensation of Rs 5 lakh.” One person from Pulwama had died in Islamabad during the unrest.
Deputy Commissioner, Pulwama, Muhammad Afzal Bhat said during the survey 12 cases, of which nine are from within the district, three out of district and two deaths took place in Islamabad. “All the 12 were provided with the relief and we are also trying to provide relief to recent cases of death that of Ghulam Nabi Mir of Pampore.”
However, these are a few cases of the youth which are still under investigation.
An official in the Divisional Commissioner’s office said a few cases are under process owing to the sensitivity of cases. “Owing to the serious nature of death cases, some are under investigation. Let the investigation report come first, only then we can decide on whether to provide them with the relief.”