A Kashmiri mother’s tale of sorrow

Shameena, a Kashmiri mother, spends her days crying silently, longingly gazing at the picture of her smiling son Zubair Ahmed because she will never see him again. Zubair, a child of no more than 14 was killed by the Special Task Force (STF) after a chase in Sopore, Baramullah during the summer unrest in 2010.

On the fateful day, Zubair and four other boys were chased by the STF, who were pelting stones at them. Fearing detention, the boys jumped into a fast flowing river; while the other boys made it to the shore, Zubair drowned. “He told the STF that he couldn’t swim and he was ready to get detained,” Zubair’s father, Ghulam Hasan Bhat reveals.

With Zubair’s death, Bhat and his wife Shameena lost their second and last son to the valley’s conflict; their first Raja was killed during a strike called by Geelani. When the distraught family tried approaching the local police station to lodge an First Inquiry Report (FIR) on Zubair’s death, the police refused to file it and warned the family that their action would have dire consequences. “The police threatened to kill my relatives in a fake encounter in case they lodged an FIR” says Bhat. Undeterred by threats, Bhat approached the J&K High court seeking his right, who directed the police to lodge the FIR.

However, five years later that FIR has yielded no action and Zubair’s parents still await justice. Shameena hasn’t been the same since Zubair’s death. “How can a mother come to terms with the death of her children, with some cash compensation? I ask these leaders to send their kids to die in conflict, we will pay the compensation money. I want to see how they can survive without their children,” she says.

In the year 2010, Baramullah district alone had reported death of 52 youths by the hands of CRPF and police due to the summer unrest. The Kashmir conflict has torn the valley between the army and insurgents for more than five decades and caught in the cross-fire are the residents. “It is we, the common people who suffer or get affected,” says Shameena, speaking on behalf of probably every mother of an innocent child in the Kashmir valley.

KashmirUnheard is a project of Video Volunteers in which Kashmiri youth produce and share stories of concern to them. More info: www.kashmirunheard.org

This Ground Report is part of a series of videos produced for the International Peoples Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-Administered Kashmir (IPTK) and Association of Parents of Disappeared persons (APDP) to accompany their report, “Structures of Violence: the Indian State in Jammu and Kashmir” which identifies the structures, forms and tactics of violence of the Indian State in Jammu and Kashmir.