IIOJK in focus

IIOJK elderly man dies with wish to se sons subjected to custodial disappearance

Srinagar, September 23 (KMS): In Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir, 90-year-old Abdul Ahad Rah passed away at his native Mahrajgunj area of Srinagar earlier this week, awaiting a meeting over 22 years with two of his sons who were arrested by Delhi Police in 2000 in Nepal, and were never traced afterwards.

Both of Ahad’s sons Muhammad Shafi Rah (then 30) and Mushtaq Ahmad Rah (then 25), had left Srinagar in 1995, in search of employment in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. They worked at a tannery in Nepal, where they’d manufacture leather bags and gloves.

On September 5, 2000, the Delhi Police, along with Interpol, conducted raids in Nepal and arrested several Kashmiri businessmen including both of Ahad’s sons. Several among those arrested were released. However, the two brothers still remain untraced even after 22 years. Upon receiving a call about his sons’ arrests from Nepal, Ahad hurried to Nepal, where he was told that the duo had been shifted to Jodhpur Jail in Rajhastan.

Ahad, in various conversations with the media, said, “When I reached Rajhstan, the prison authorities initially admitted the duo (his sons) were kept in the same jail. I was asked to bring an affidavit from Srinagar and I did the same.”

When Ahad went back to Jodhpur Jail after getting all the sought documents, the jail authorities did not allow him to meet his sons. “I was told that they have been instructed by the Srinagar administration to not allow any visitors. In Jodhpur, the CID threatened me. They said that there was news of an attack on the Jodhpur jail, and that we must go back, otherwise, we would be arrested under the same charges, too,” he had told the press.

“We got scared and came back,” Ahad said, adding that he knocked at everyone’s door for justice, but to no avail and that his sons remained untraceable.

With time, Ahad’s health deteriorated and he developed multiple ailments, essentially borne out of deep anxiety and mental pressure post the arrest of his two sons. “My wife and I went to every office in order for our children to be traced and we spent all that we possessed,” Ahad had said.

After Ahad was sent back to Srinagar, no information or sign about his sons could be traced. In old age, he refused to give up on hope and ran from pillar to post looking for a sign on both his children. In 2018, his family had appealed the then Governor of IIOJK Satyapal Malik to look into the matter. We are ready to give up our home, if that’s what it takes, they’d said.

The old parents won’t even bolt their doors at night, in case their ‘lost’ sons arrive someday, one of Ahad’s children said, also adding, “What crime have the old parents committed to deserve this? Why this injustice? Look at their condition.”

The two held onto the tattered documents pertaining to their sons’ arrest, including an issue of The Kathmandu Post from year 2000, a local Nepali newspaper, with a detailed report on the arrests of the Kashmiri businessmen in the said case.

Khadija, Ahad’s wife says, “My husband had been bedridden for the last three years. His last wish was to see his sons before his death. During the last days of his life, he would often call out his sons’ names. He had heart, kidney ailments along with joint pains. I am not well either.”

A dejected Ahad, his little eyes deep sunken into his wrinkled face, in a 2018 interview with Greater Kashmir, asked, “Ye kous jamhooriyat? Mai gaey pannen awladan ardah wariy czalan. Magar yeti chun kiheen bozaan. Saza diyhukh agar jurmwaar chi, magar mae diyiw timan mulaqat, kam az kam. Yi kya zulm chu?” (What kind of a democracy is this? I’ve been searching for my sons for the past 18 years. But no one’s paying heed to my requests. Punish them if there’s wrong but let us meet our sons. What is this injustice?

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