Among the many faces of mothers with “disappeared” sons, sitting in 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 staffer, she kept the stove burning. “I worked as a peon in the SSM College so I could 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 Sardar 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 says 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 were 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.