Doda: In Search of Father’s Whereabouts
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As the ongoing clampdown in Jammu and Kashmir enters its third month, a son in Fiqsoo-Thatri village of Doda, Jammu is waiting for his father to return. Malik Tafheem ul Haq, doesn’t know where his father is, nor was he given any reason when the army reportedly barged into his house and took his father along.
The day Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced abrogation of the special status of J&K, many political activists, opposition leaders, students and others were detained across Jammu and Kashmir. Noor Mohammad Fayaz, a former Hurriyat member from Doda, was one among them. According to his family members, he was arrested on the intervening night of August 5 and 6.
The family was told that Noor’s detention was a precautionary measure after the “big announcement”. As per the family, while Noor was in the prison, he was made to sign a blank paper. The next day, it was stated that he was protesting against the abrogation of 370. The villagers and the family members told NewsClick that no protest took place in the village on August 5. Twelve days later, Noor was released. But the harassment and the torture has allegedly continued.
As Noor, who runs a school named Unique Public School in the premises of his house, was limping back to his life, he was arrested once again. But this time, the entire village reportedly gathered to ask the reason for his arrest, and yet, no reason was given.
Noor’s son Tafheem recalls, “Around 12.30 am, we heard somebody knocking at the door. There were 20 people from the army and a few policemen. They barged into the house, snatched our phones and asked for my father. When asked about the reason, they said it is just a routine exercise.” According to Tafheem, the army stayed at their house that night while they were awake, praying. “The next day, they didn’t let us cook breakfast and took my father and our phone (his mother’s and his) with them. The entire village gathered and tried stopping the army, but to no avail. Since then, I don’t know where my father is,” Tafheem added.
Noor was reportedly associated with Hurriyat and was close to Syed Ali Shah Geelani. He left Hurriyat a few years ago and since then, has been arrested multiple times over the charges of being an Over Ground Worker (OGW). Meanwhile, the family has refuted any such claim. Noor’s wife said, “He left Hurriyat many years ago. I, myself, went to Srinagar to get him back. Since then, he has not been involved in any activity. He opened a school and has been teaching small kids since last year. He wants to lead a normal life. Since last two months, his mobile phone is in police custody. He has no phone. He feared keeping a phone, thinking that the police will get a reason to arrest him again.”
Since Noor has been arrested, the functioing of the school has been affected. “Every day, the parents of the students ask us about my father. The villagers are concerned about the future of their children. Almost the entire village studies at our school. These are small kids, so parents prefer sending them to the nearby school,” Tafheem told NewsClick.
As the mother and the son duo wait for Noor to return, every day, the son is reminded of the last conversation he had with his father. “As the army was taking him along with them, he asked for our forgiveness for causing us pain and and said that he will take his life, as he is tired of the torture. I can not forget his words; they’re giving me sleepless nights,” said Tafheem.
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