From singer to a victim of fake encounter

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On July, 1, 2006, mourners carrying body of Inayat Ullah Bhat during a protest demonstration against CRPF troopers who shot dead Bhat on late evening of June 30. Photograph: Habib Naqash/GK

Tutaq tutaq totiyan hai jawano, Tutaq tutaq totiyan hai jawano

[T]he audience at the farewell party of the Kamla Nehru School, Srinagar were mesmerised by the above song sung by a young talented musician of class 9. This song was the first on stage performance of the talented youngster- Inayat Ullah Bhat. Since then there was no looking back as if music ran through his veins. An ardent lover of music, Inayat started learning music in his early teens. His youth was all about music as it was his first love. Inayat enrolled for a music course at Institute of Music and Fine Arts, Srinagar immediately after passing his class 12. Soon after graduating there Inayat was the newbie singer at Doordarshan broadcasting channel and Radio Kashmir. Being a talented musician, Inayat in no time rose to being called a reputed singer from a newbie. He was now a regular at Doordarshan and Radio Kashmir and the musical events graced his presence. Inayat started a production house under the banner of Dale Productions and started making albums in year 2000-01 for Doordarshan. He also hosted a music and quiz program.

With all the talent and fame in his pocket, life seemed be perfect for Inayat and his family. Inayat’s family was always there for him, supporting him and never asking him to join the family business as they had absolutely no reason for it. The small family of Inayat, his father, mother, younger sister and brother was living happily until Inayat met a small accident at home. Tripping from few stairs at home, Inayat suffered a hip joint fracture and after multiple pinning during the surgery Inayat was bed ridden at home for three years. This event changed the course of events for him. This incident didn’t let him down instead he was more upbeat and positive towards life. Stuck for three years at his home, Inayat left music completely and even condoned it, started praying five times a day on bed only and reading Islamic literature. Later after receiving treatment in Delhi hospitals, Inayat started to walk placidly again with the help of crutches.

[pullquote]Till date no government has been able to deliver justice to us or families like us. Omar Abdullah should form a committee especially for people like us and see to it that justice is delivered. It’s only the justice which can lower our pain [and] nothing else.[/pullquote]He was gradually walking again with a limp and crutches and started to administer their bakery shop. Life was again on its track for him and his family, not like times before but they were happy again. But there was more to come for this once a happy family. At 9:30 pm, on June 30, 2006, Inayat’s brother, Rayees, had just closed the bakery shop and entered into his home adjacent to the shop. The shop and their house is opposite to the Ikhwan Hotel, but (then) occupied by the 46 Battalion of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).  Rayees was holding a glass of water but yet to drink the first drop when everyone heard the sound of rounds of fire outside. Sensing an encounter had taken place in Ikhwan Hotel CRPF camp, Rayees was told by his mother to switch off all the lights of their house.

All the family members assembled in the kitchen but Inayat was nowhere to be found in the house. Rayees and his family became anxious and apprehensive and stormed out of the house to find Inayat lying in the pool of blood across the road, just near the gate of the Ikhwan hotel CRPF camp. They covered Inayat’s body, preventing the CRPF personnel to fire again, but the damage had been inflicted. A full round was fired upon Inayat and then a close range shot in his heart. Rayees quickly rushed him to the nearby hospital. The whole family was shattered. Nears and dears reached the hospital. There were hues and cries at hospital and back home at Munawarabad. People were furious when they heard Inayat who couldn’t even walk had been shot.

Rayees quoting an eyewitness says, “Inayat was looking at the decoration of the shop from outside and then he was called by the CRPF personnel and then fired upon.” Meanwhile by 12 in the midnight Inayat called up Rayees and asked the doctor to remove oxygen mask. Rayees says he told him, “Be obedient to parents, offer prayers five times a day and recite Holy Quran always.” Listening to his brother’s words, Rayees left the operation theatre, crying, knowing that his brother won’t make it and in a few minutes Inayat was declared dead.

Kashmir had lost another youth. He was 30 years old then and was killed in that fake encounter. His family was shattered but the testing time had begun only. They were not given the body till 10 am, the next morning, that too after long night struggle and resentment of Inayat’s family. When the body reached Munawarabad people had assembled in thousands.

“On seeing so many people present there for Inayat, my heart relieved a bit by the fact that thousands had come to show solidarity with us,” says Rayees. “People wanted us to bury him at Martyrs graveyard but my father, Rehmatullah Bhat wanted him to be buried at their ancestral graveyard. So without giving him ghusl (ritual bath), as it wasn’t requisite for the reason that he was a Shaheed (martyr), we buried him at our ancestral graveyard,” Rayees adds.

The entire valley was shut down against Inayat’s killing. All pro-freedom leaders visited his home. International human rights bodies condemned his killing. The then opposition party leader and President of National Conference party, Farooq Abdullah and top civil administrators promised speedy justice.

Inayat Ullah Bhat
Inayat Ullah Bhat

To make things calmer as the whole valley was simmering, police booked two constables of 46 battalion of CRPF under FIR no. 56/2006 under section 302. The CRPF in their defence said it was a case of mistaken identity. But the family challenged this saying that the CRPF men knew him well as they were his regular customers besides he couldn’t even walk properly. The two constables were made to talk to Inayat’s parents and they accepted the crime. According to Rayees one constable said that he didn’t know how he fired, it just happened. “But when a fire is shot from a close range that too on chest, it doesn’t just happen,” retorts Rayees.

The two constables were released from police station soon after the situation was normal in the valley. “They must be now in some part of India living their lives happily. Our government never wanted to try them in court. It was mere eyewash that time. Police didn’t even seize the weapon and the clear murder case became a case of negligence,” says Rayees, who followed the case in court continuously for four years devoid of any outcome. He says he realised that in Kashmir justice is too big a thing to ask for. But his family didn’t give up. Inayat’s younger sister and father follow the case till date. But Rayees is sceptical of justice being delivered but for the sake of family he supports them. Lamenting the successive regimes of government, Rayees says, “Till date no government has been able to deliver justice to us or families like us. Omar Abdullah should form a committee especially for people like us and see to it that justice is delivered. It’s only the justice which can lower our pain [and] nothing else.”

Things have been hard for the family for past seven years. That day still haunts them. Like other families who have lost their children in such a way, Inayat’s family too reels under psychological pressure. A loud noise brings chill to them. Recent deaths in 2010 and 2008 mass uprising were also hard for them as if they saw Inayat in each of them. Inayat’s parents are suffering from various physical and mental ailments. There is almost no day when Inayat’s memories are flashed before them and they are sent back to the day of mourning.

[pullquote]What lies there is a name of the street as Shaheed Inayat Chowk inscribed on display board at the four way street of Munawarabad. On one side of the board lies the Ikhwan Hotel with another battalion of CRPF and on the other side shop and house of Inayat’s family with all his memories and in between the same road where he was shot at.[/pullquote]Still after seven years they feel his presence bringing tears back. Life moves on but for Inayat’s parents it was stalled the moment he left. Rayees hardly allow anyone to speak with them about Inayat, keeping in view the trauma they went through. What lies there is a name of the street as Shaheed Inayat Chowk inscribed on display board at the four way street of Munawarabad. On one side of the board lies the Ikhwan Hotel with another battalion of CRPF and on the other side shop and house of Inayat’s family with all his memories and in between the same road where he was shot at.

Justice continues to elude this family as the rest. Inayat’s case file continues to make rounds in the courts for almost seven years now but justice is yet to arrive. Hundreds of cases of fake encounters, mistaken identity lie piled up in the courts but the verdicts are yet to come in favour of any of them. The post killing trauma continues to affect the lives of families of people lost in fake encounters.


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