As the three army men from south Kashmir are being questioned in their alleged involvement in the killing of army personnel Aurangzeb in June last year, the families of two suspects under questioning are claiming that the duo hasn’t been home since June and several times as they called, someone would pick call and say ‘he is on duty.’

Aurangzeb, from 4 Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry, was posted with the 44 Rashtriya Rifles at Shadimarg camp in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district. He was abducted and killed by militants on 14 June 2018 when he was on way to his home ahead of Eid.

Among several others who are being questioned into his killing, three names have come forward – Abid Wani from Pulwama, Tajamul Dar from Qazigund and Adil Wani from Pulwama, the three army men who are being questioned and not allowed to go out, for their alleged role into the killing.

Sources in the army confirm that there is an inquiry going into the case and the three army men are not currently on duty, but being questioned as part of the investigation. However, police is also conducting an investigation, and while speaking to The Kashmir Walla, the Senior Superintendent of Police, Pulwama, Chandan Kohli said, “We are looking into the matter. As the investigation proceeds, I will let you know at the appropriate point of time. Right now I cannot give you any detail.”

Families say the army men have not been home since June

One of the army men Abid Wani, 24, is a resident of Achgoza, Pulwama, whose family says that he last spoke with them on 4 July 2018, and “has been missing since.” Last week his elder brother, Tawseef Ahmad Wani, also accused army personnel in Shadimarg army camp of assaulting him.

As per Wani’s family, “Abid was taken by the army by the unit he was working with,” and added that the family last saw him on 13 June 2018. Talking to The Kashmir Walla, Mr. Tawseef Wani said, “Whenever I asked about my brother’s whereabouts, police officials told me that the inquiry is going on, while the army personnel replied that he is on duty.”

Allegedly, Mr. Wani’s father was killed by militants in 2002, and “he joined the army because his of his father.” The brothers have two sisters, out of whom one is unmarried. “Adil (Wani) and Tajamul (Dar) were posted with him,” said Mr. Wani.

Another army man is 25-year-old, a resident of Nusu area of Qazigund, went back to duty in 44 RR Shopian, Kathuhalan camp after Eid-ul-Fitr vacation and had the last phone conversation with his family on 25 June. After that, according to his wife, Rozi, he stopped receiving calls, “then we went to the camp (Kathahalan), but we couldn’t meet.”

Though, in the following months, the family visited again to the camp and managed to talk to Mr. Dar on call via the guard post. “Last time I met him in Rangreth on 18 January this year,” said Mr. Dar’s wife, as per whom, the entire family went to meet but wasn’t allowed, except her and Mr. Dar’s mother Ms. Naza Jan.

Talking to The Kashmir Walla, Abdul Majeed, grandfather of Mr. Dar, said, “On 6 Feb, few army personnel visited our house to ask about Tajamul, and his family details.” Mr. Dar’s father has died in 1990, and “Tajamul is the only son in the family,” added Mr. Majeed.

Feeling helpless, Ms. Jan said, she went to the Kathawhalan Shopian camp and “inquired about my son to various officials. Commanding Officer (CO) didn’t meet me much, and I don’t remember anyone’s name or designation, because I’m illiterate. They used to me tell that he is on duty at different places.”

“I went to numerous police officials, and they said, ‘he is alright and fine, and is on duty’,” said Ms. Jan, “After he went back to duty following the vacation, we had the contact for a few days, but after that, we couldn’t contact him on call.”

Breaking down on call, Ms. Jan added, “I’m waiting for my son’s return. My father-in-law is bed-ridden, and I have daughter at home. My brother and sister help me with the expenses.”  

Kashmir needs independent journalism…

…now, more than ever to give a voice to the voiceless. The press in Kashmir has operated under tremendous pressures of reporting from a conflict zone but since August 2019 we find ourselves in unchartered territory. The Kashmir Walla is among the oldest independent media outlets in Kashmir and has withstood successive lockdowns as well as attempts to suppress us, fighting back with authoritative ground reports based on facts.

We believe in making the powers that be accountable to their actions but to also hold the mirror to the society. We believe in covering all sides of the story and that empowerment in essence means the ability to make informed decisions. As such we have not allowed our journalism to be influenced by the pressures.

Despite the new and still unknown pressures, we are all the more committed to keep informing you of events and stories that matter. Our recent coverage of events has brought us an increased readership. However, the coronavirus pandemic and resultant economic crisis has affected our operational capabilities. We are facing an existential threat but only your support can help us withstand this and maintain our editorial independence.

We need your solidarity to keep our journalism going. Your contribution will empower us to keep you informed on stories that matter from Kashmir. Show your solidarity by joining our members community. Kashmir thanks you.