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A Mothers Tragedy

By Younus Farooq

06 April, 2014

Najibullah was 18, when he was killed by troopers.They shot him thrice
in the chest, says Zooni Begum (58), mother of Najibullah. Sitting in
the corner of her kitchen, she laments the death of her son. He was
killed just outside their home at Wadwan village in Budgam, almost 40
kilometers from Srinagar.

"It was May 16, 2000. Najibullah had gone to see his aunt. He would
often visit her. However, on that day he did not return even till 9
pm. So I got worried," says Zooni.

She remembers how her husband Abdul Khaliq Mir tried to pacify her,
"Do not worry, he said Najib will return soon. But I was still

At around 9:20 pm, the family heard gunshots. "I lost wits. Deep
inside, I somehow knew that they (troopers) had shot him. I told my
husband about it. But he calmed me down and pacified me. Keep quiet he
said. Keep quiet."

That night the family could not sleep.Though they were still not sure,
but the then there was no clue about Najib. Thousands, arrested by
troopers, had not returned home, hundreds others just disappeared and
then there were those killed in fake encounters. The family feared the
worst. However, the horror broke in the morning only.

Zooni says, her father-in-law informed them about his Najib's death.

"I was on my way to mosque very early in the morning, when I saw a
body lying in the pool of blood guarded by dogs in the middle of the
street, just ahead of our house," says Ghulam Ahmad Mir. Probably, he
was the first one to see the dead body.

"I screamed. It is Najibullah. It is Najeebullah," recounts Ahmad.

For the family, it was no less than the Doomsday.

"I only believed it when they brought the blood-soaked body of my son
in front of me. I tore my clothes, beat my chest and I screamed and
cried. Traumitised, fell unconscious, says Zooni. She says, no one can
understand the pain of a mother, whose son has been killed. This pain
is lingering on. Nothing subdues it. Nothing, she asserts."

For Zooni, the memory of that day is vivid. She has held on to them
for years now, recounted them to people, self.

"He had but white clothes and was looking handsome," says Zooni, as
her eyes shine recounting the detail. On that day, he had put brand new
white clothes, says Zooni.

Later, a bullet-ridden five-rupee note and a miswaak (herb used for
cleaning teeth) were recovered from him.

On that day, Najebullah had collected beans from the field. He had to
go to the city (Srinagar) with the beans next day to his sister's house, says

"He was innocent. He was not a militant. He was my son. They came and
killed him under the cover of darkness," laments the heart-broken

She lives now with her husband and three sons. Her two daughters are
married. Her husband (an ex-chief engineer) was the acting manager of
the Mir Automate Tools (MAT) on the National Highway Narbal which was
occupied by Indian troops on 9 August, 1995.

"The security forces raised the building. They damaged an automatic
plant which inflicted a damage of millions of rupees. It was biggest
setback of my life," Abdul Khaliq Mir says.

Zooni says, her elder son, Mir Tanveer, was in Pakistan at the time of
his brother's tragic death. Tanveer, who served as a media analyst in
the United States embassy in Pakistan died in October 23, 2012. He had
done masters in Journalism from a University in Pakistan. He fled
Kashmir when armed insurgency broke out in Kashmir. He returned home
due to health reasons after 23 years, says Zooni. "He just survived
for 40 days at home," she says

His second son, Mir Lateef, is settled outside. He is a doctor.

My third son is highly qualified and is looking for a good job. My
younger son, is a post-graduate student, says zooni.

Najib was a 12th class student when he was killed. "We had planned to
send him to Saudi Arabia to pursue higher studies. His travel
documents and passport were in the process," Abdul Khaliq Mir.

While Khaliq Mir is still not done with his sentence, Zooni says, "On
his death anniversary, I take out his photo and kiss." Then she breaks

"Security forces who killed him, told us they heard few gunshots in
the previous night. They told us they don't know anything about it.
They lied about it," says zooni.

Her father-in-law had caught the army commander by his collar and
slapped him on his face. The resentment was running deep. There were
protests. People raised slogans. demanded justice, then things cooled

Zoni says days before his killing, Najibullah was traveling with his
documents for verification. He was stopped at a military bunker by an
Ikhwani (renegrade), Mushtaq Pal (later killed in an encounter). "He
frequently visited our home. He intimidated us. He had planned to kill
my son, adds Zooni.

A close friend of Najibullah, Waqar (not his real name) says that he,
Najibullah and his cousin, were talking on the street corner on that
unfortunate day.

"When we saw security forces, we sped our way to our home. His cousin
jumped over the wall. I told Najebullah to move fast. However, he said
don't worry, we are home," says waqar.

Waqar then slipped into a stream nearby. It was here that Najib was
killed later on. A wooden bridge was erected over the Stream
overlooking the street where Najib was later killed on. "I ducked
under the bridge," says Waqar adding the night dark. "Pitch dark,"
says Waqar.

"The security forces caught hold of him. They were 15 in number. I was
scared, so I stayed back. I raised my head, so that I could watch out
the activity," Waqar recollects.

He says that troopers searched Najib thoroughly, then questioned him.
"I crept my way to other side to emerge near my home." Almost 10
minutes, he heard gunshots.

While Waqar sit quiet, Zooni says, she remembers his son through
prayers. "He is not dead. And, the sacrifices of martyrs won't go in
vain. Things would change. They would change for better," she

Younus Farooq is a kashmiri based journalist




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