Losing sight of her son
After losing her son, Raja Begum lost her eyesight and now she lives in a miserable condition
A MOTHER’S TRAGEDY
Deaf, blind and bedridden for nearly a decade in her small room in Tengbagh, Nowpora, about 3 Kms from the heart of the Srinagar city centre, 65-year-old Raja Begum is oblivious to the world outside and presence of anyone at home. Tears seem to have dried up in her sunken eyes. Having continuously wept after losing her son, Raja Begum has lost her eyesight now. And she can hardly hear anything.
Her son, Javid Ahmad Renzu, a salesman, was 18-year-old when he was killed in cross firing at Khanyar in 1996. He was picked up by Special Task Force personnel on the intervening night of August, 20, 1996.
Abdul Rashid Mir, the uncle of the deceased who lives next to their home, still remembers that terrifying night. “It was around 1.30 am and we were sleeping when we heard a sudden bang on the door. They broke the main gate and sneaked in forcefully,” recalls Mir. “Special Task Force armed men from Ranawari camp took away my nephew at around 1.30 Am. Our family was stunned into silence on that night by those gun wielding men in uniform,” he says.
Javid had passed his 10th standard a year ago but he couldn’t continue his studies because of the poor economic condition of his family. To support his family, he had to discontinue his studies and start working as a salesman. “I tried to resist the STF men from taking him but they hit me with the gun butt. He was shivering and drops of sweat fell off from his forehead,” recalls Hajara Mir, Javid’s aunt.
Javid’s family says he was severely tortured by STF men during the intervening night as they wanted to know the whereabouts of his militant brother. “My brother bore torture remarks and his body was ridden with bullets, he was used as a human shield by Special Task Force camp, Jogi Lanker Ranawari at the encounter site,” says Ulfat, Javid’s sister. “We received his body in the morning from Police Control Room Batamaloo.”
The picture of his brother may appear blurred for Ulfat but his memories are fresh. Hardly able to walk with the support of the stick, Raja is suffering from numerous aliments. There is no one in her home to support her except her daughter, who has to seek permission from her in-laws to visit her everyday to fetch essential medicines and take care of her needs. “My mother has to take six to eight medicines a day which costs more than Rs 150,” says Ulfat. “She has lost her eyesight and is hardly able to hear anything. I wonder if I die who will take care of my mother,” she says, fighting back tears.
Being married Ulfat is hardly able to take care of her mother who can barely walk with the help of a stick. She is the only caretaker of her mother and his disabled, bedridden brother. Her father, Ali Mohammad, who was a driver by profession couldn’t bear the loss of his son and died after prolonged illness due to kidney failure. Her brother, Irfan (name withheld) was arrested in 1998 and severely tortured. For nine years he remained locked up in various jails and torture centres. Refusing to work with government agencies, Irfan was arrested again in 2005 and then again tortured. He’s permanently disabled now. “They used to pressurize me to work with them but on refusal I was tortured brutally which disabled my leg and injured my back,” he says. “I’m not able to work now,” he adds, “I suffer from severe back pain throughout day and night which has made my life hell. I cannot work anymore.”
Irfan has become totally dependent and addicted to pain killers. He’s remained bedridden for many years now. Like his mother, he too is dependent on his sister, the only source of income for the family. “My married life got ruined after the state agencies started picking me up again and again,” he says. “Be chus pyaraan waen marnas,” he laments, “Kaash mae yeehay waen moat”.
Struggling to talk, Irfan breaks down and adds, “I became a Mujahid knowing that if I die for the cause, there will be people to support my family but that was not to be,” he says. Irfan joined Hizbul Mujahedeen (HM) in 1990 and later became the battalion commander of HM. He was first arrested in 1993 and then released in 1995. He joined the militant ranks again and finally was arrested again in 1998. After his release he left militancy and married but his happiness couldn’t last long. He was arrested in 2005. “I was arrested without any reason and subjected to third degree torture,” he says. “I was finally acquitted in 2007 as there was no case against me but they released me in half-dead condition.”
Rarely anyone comes to visit their home to help the family in distress. Javid’s shaken family wants to see the killers of their dear one behind the bars but unfortunately they don’t have the money required to pursue the case. Irfan worries about his ailing mother, who doctors say can see again only if her eyes are operated on. “We don’t have all that money required for the eye operation of my mother,” he says.
Raja sleeps less, smokes hookah throughout the night and only thinks about her dearest, obedient son she lost at a young age. “Javida kot goakh, Javida koth goakh?,” she mutters. (Where are you Javid, where are you?).
After her son was killed Raja got addicted to the hubble-bubble despite the doctor advising her to give it up as she was diagnosed with serious lung diseases. After taking a few puffs, she laments, “Ma go achan ti gash tamsindis gamas manz, be chas yasan tamsindaan katilan gase phansh din.” (I lost my eyesight after his death. I want his killers to be hanged)
The family alleges that the police in order to save the skin of STF men in the beginning tired to dub Javid as a ‘hardcore militant’, but Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission in their report says that Javid was innocent. SHRC under case no SHRC/2001/374 in their probe also found STF guilty of killing an innocent man. The report reads: “The SOG Rainawari Jogi Lanker on the night between 19th and 20th august, 1996 raided the house of Javid Ahmad Renzu S/O Ali Mohammad Renzu. They illegally without any reason or right arrested Javid Ahmad in place of his militant brother and he was taken and killed after hours of his arrest. The killing of Javid Ahmad is clearly a custodial death of an innocent man.”
Unable to afford the expensive but essential medicines required for Raja, her daughter often lies to her mother, telling her that there is curfew outside and that she can’t go out to fetch her medicines. Raja enquires about the curfew whenever anyone visits her home. “Curfew cha nabre?” she asks me. (Is there curfew outside?)
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Lastupdate on : Thu, 5 Sep 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 5 Sep 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 6 Sep 2013 00:00:00 IST
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