By Arif Shafiq Badoo
The streets of Kreeri village smelled of spoiled blood, and silence filled the air with smoke. The Wednesday afternoon of July 2010 saw every house abandoned in this South-western village of Baramulla district of Jammu and Kashmir. Every ear was glued to the broken window edges and heard the marching raids. The roads were blocked by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) men and every activity was in view.
It was rarely a rare scene but got disturbed by the protesters of Palhallan- a nearby village. They wanted the people of Kreeri to participate in the ongoing protest rallies against the state forces. Protestors were raising slogans, broke the various shop-fronts and set a few vehicles ablaze. Only a few people from Kreeri joined them in response. For people it was a usual protest but for 20-year-old, Syed Farakh Bukhari, it was “a day of achievement” as Zahida Bashir, his mother, believes.
On March 19, 2010 he had registered himself in Government Degree College Baramulla for the Mass Communication and Video Production course. “Farakh would always stay at his home and never responded to the calls from the protesters, but on that day the schedule changed,” Zahida tells The Kashmir Walla.
“During protests my son would always stay near me, Hannan (his younger sister) and Lukmaan (his younger brother). On July 24 his cousins accompanied him to the Gulmarg- a nearby tourist spot, to stay away from the unstable situation in and around Kreeri and they returned after a few days,” she says.
Farakh was a prominent boy in the village. He was good-looking with his curly black hair, always gelled. He was a responsible boy in his family but “even responsibility couldn’t stop him that day”. His mother says, “It was 5:45 pm. Farakh had just returned home after the Asar (afternoon) prayers. The sloganeering of protestors was in everyone’s ears and in my son’s too. So he moved out to take a look to the Palhallan protestors. I initially considered it as his routine outing but I later realized I was wrong. Who knew it was the last time to see him, he left with a gaze at my face.”
It was the day after Shab-e-Baraat (a local Muslim holiday after a night long prayers) and Farakh’s mother was fasting. She told him to return home soon so that she could eat something with him. He was near the bus stop. His hopes for returning home seemed diminished as it would have meant to betray the protestors. He wanted to go back but he couldn’t.
“Baya (Farakh) begged protestors to leave him. They told him that he would be dropped at Chooora (another village on the national highway). The CRPF and Jammu and Kashmir Police already had the information about the arrival of protestors, so they were on the highway,” Hannan, Farakh’s younger sister says, adding, “When they saw forces, after a few minutes the boys tried to escape, many of them succeeded but a few couldn’t,”
“As we felt weak in front of them, we tried to find a way out to escape and finally a few of us left but Farakh couldn’t. At the last glance I saw Farakh standing there but after that the smoke was everywhere. I didn’t know how they picked him up,” Parvaiz Mir, one of the protesters that day, says.
The protestors of Kreeri returned but Farakh didn’t. Zahida was yet to break her fast, waiting for Farakh. Everyone was worried as it was quarter to eight and Farakh was still missing. His family asked many protesters about him, but no one knew anything. On the next day Farakh’s father, Bashir Ahmed Bukhari and Syed Sareer, his uncle, went to the Kreeri police station and filed a report. They were assured about the immediate inquiry in the case. Days passed, Farakh was still missing. On the ninth day after he was missing, the family visited the Police Station again. They were asked to take a look in the Choora Police Station near which the incident took place. The family moved to Choora, but only to get the ambiguous answers from the police officials. More five days passed and no one was able to find out Farakh.
On the evening of August 10, a shopkeeper of Kreeri, Sadiq Khan got a call from a resident of Choora. He told him that the labourers who were digging out sand from the rivulet have fished out a body from Ningli Nallaha. Sadiq informed Farakh’s family to go there and take a look. All the family members reached Choora at around 7:30 pm. They saw a huge gathering surrounding a dead body. Bashir and Sareer went on with a few people and examined the body. All of a sudden Bashir screamed. He was Farakh.
“What we saw there was appalling. His right hand was chopped; his hips and thighs had the marks of iron nails. His head was partially spoiled and he didn’t look like Farakh,” Gani Khan, who had seen the body, then, told The Kashmir Walla.
Farakh’s body was brought to Sub District Hospital Kreeri were post-mortem was conducted which later revealed that it was death due to extreme torture.
What did Farakh’s family want now?
On asking them they hardly mentioned any harsh word. “If they will show us the culprit we will not harm him. But will ask him only one question: Is he a human?” Hannan Bashir says. “Government offered us compensation but how come we will sell Farakh Sahib’s martyrdom.”