Why This Bhaderwah Family Needs Immediate Help?

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by Athar Parvaiz

Muslims in Badarwah have alleged that the murder of a cattle trader, Nayeem Ahmad Shah, on May 16, in Nalti area of Badarwah was in keeping with a series of incidents of harassment and communal violence in the region. However, police are investigating and looking at the possibility of any other reasons, including the possibility of any mutual rivalry for the murder.

Nayeem Ahmad Shah, a cattle trader from Bhaderwah who was killed during the night of May 16, 2019.

Shah, 52, was killed with a 12-bore gun on May 16, at 2:00 am in Nalti area of Badarwah while he was transferring cattle (‘bulls and horses’) along with two others, Zahoor Ahmad Bhat and Yasir Gujjar. Their other two companions, Mudasir Bhat and Rashid Bhat, were some distance behind them and have thus escaped the attack, eye witness, Zahoor Ahmad Bhat told this writer.

While Shah, who hailed from Qila village in Badarwah, died on spot after being shot point-blank, Gujjar received splinter injuries as a result of rifle-fire. The murder of Shah triggered massive protests from members of the Muslim community and the authorities had to deploy the army for keeping the situation under control.

A fortnight later, no formal arrests have been made, as confirmed by the district police authorities. A 12-bore gun, believed to have been used in the killing has been seized and sent to FSL Jammu for examination. The police chief of Badarwah, Shabir Malik told this writer that police have “seized all the weapons in the area as a natural reaction after such an incident.” The eye-witnesses, Zahoor Ahmad Bhat and Gujjar, have given their account to police.

This writer also spoke with the eye-witness Bhat, directly.  “We could not see anybody in darkness. I just saw torchlight beaming on us and suddenly I heard the sound of rifle-fire. In a few moments, I saw Nayeem sahib in a pool of blood,” Bhat said.

Humaira, the daughter of Shah said that her father was threatened twice by the alleged cow vigilantes earlier, but he had not taken it seriously. “My father, as you can imagine by looking at his photo, was a well-built man and he was confident that he could not be overpowered by anyone. But these people have attacked him in the dark of night without his knowledge; that too with a weapon,” Humaira told this writer.

She said that the family had not taken the threats seriously and had never imagined that they would go to the extent of murdering him.

Shattered dreams!

Shah was the only bread-earner for his daughter, son and wife, who now have no clue how they can continue life after losing him.

“Our father has been snatched from us. Papa could not live on. What would we do now?” These are the questions Humaira is asking. She has recently graduated with flying colours by scoring 73 per cent marks and now wanted to pursue BEd, a must for getting a teacher’s job.

Slain Nayeem Shah with his wife and daughter Humaira.

“My father was working very hard for my education. He would tell me that you just study, I will manage money even if I have to borrow it from others. We had thought my education would get me a job someday and help our family to come out of the crisis,” she said. “We never knew our plans will be cut short!”

Shah’s neighbours said that he could not make his three other daughters study because of lack of resources and married them off comparatively young, but worked very hard for the education of the youngest of his five children, Humaira and her brother, Nadeem.

After losing their father, Humaira, Nadeem and their mother feel helpless now. “We have nothing to fall back upon. Whatever little money we had, we had to spend that over the past 15 days following the killing of papa,” Humaira said.

“I have seen stuff written about pap’s killing by gua rakshaks. But no one has written what has happened to the family after losing its only bread-earner. Has someone written that this family should be provided immediate justice in the form of securing its income? Why I am not getting any help under the provisions of government’s SRO 43? Why no one raises this issue?”

She said that her younger brother is just in his 10th standard and her mother is suffering from myriad illnesses. “As of now, the only easy option I can opt for is to go and work in others’ houses for money. What else can I do unless I get some justice from the government? So far neither the government has come forward, nor we have got any help from the community,” she said.

Pervaiz Ahmad Sheikh, the president of Anjuman-e-Islam (Buderwah) said that he took up the issue of Shah’s family with deputy commissioner Doda, Doifode Sagar Dattatray. “He assured me that immediate relief of Rs 25,000 will be given to the family and the long-term relief in the form of a job under SRO 43 will be also provided to it. But, I think the family is yet get even Rs 25,000,” Sheikh said and hoped that the deputy commissioner would not only provide the family immediate relief but would also make sure that Shah’s daughter, Humaira, who is a graduate, is given a government job under SRO 43 which she deserves.

Police are investigating

Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Doda, Shabir Ahmad Malik said that police is still carrying out the investigation into the killing of Nayeem Ahmad Shah and are looking at various aspects which can help to put the pieces of investigation together.

“If this incident had taken place during day time, the process of investigation would not have taken that much time. But since the murder has been carried out during the night at 2:00 am (on May 16), it is taking us time to look at various aspects. We are studying the phone calls and questioning those who are likely to have some knowledge. We are confident of finding the culprits very soon,” Malik told this writer.

He said that an FIR of murder has been registered in the local police station and the charge sheet will be prepared once the process of investigation is completed. As regards the arrests, Malik said that no one is presently in police custody. “We only call four to five people for questioning every day and release them in the evening after questioning.”

When asked if the police are treating it as a case of communal violence, Malik said: “We are carrying out an investigation into this incident by treating it as a case of crime. Certainly, there are different angles which we are looking into without any preconceived notion. It can be a case of rivalry or cow vigilantism as such incidents have taken place in recent months elsewhere as well. But, we can say anything for sure when we complete the process of investigation.”

Athar Parvez

Malik refuted the allegation that some criminal elements from a particular community are constantly threatening poor cattle traders and that law enforcing agencies are dealing leniently with the people who carry out crimes against those whose livelihoods are dependent on buying and selling cattle. “Our deployments are always there to prevent bovine smuggling and we also hold meetings with the people to ensure that such incidents don’t take place,” Malik said and added that we also make sure that “people don’t take law into their own hands.”

(The author writes on ecological issues.)

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