70-year-old Jalla Begum lives with hope of seeing her missing son
Jalla Begum, now in her late 70s, still clings to the hope of a knock on the door by her son Mushtaq Ahmad Regoo—who left home on the day of spring equinox of 1990 never to return.
Jalla, who is old and ailing now, has still left the room of her youngest son untouched in hope that Mushtaq might return back to her on a spring morning.
“I went to everyone from the army to the civilian administration since 1990. All I got is new versions about my son,” Jalla says, adding that she and her husband have been asking the police to capture and kill their son in front of them so that they feel satisfied that they at least saw him again.
Mushtaq who was a butcher by profession had left his house in Habba Kadal on March 21, 1990, for his shop in Sarai Bala but instead of coming back home he disappeared leaving his family clueless about his whereabouts since then.
“The police after his disappearance used to raid our house almost every week claiming that our son was a militant. When we demanded an FIR against him or for his disappearance they always showed reluctance,” Jalla says.
She says police officers over the years have extracted money from her on the pretext that they would get an FIR registered in the disappearance case of his son.
“I could have applied for relief from the government as I am struggling financially. I and my husband are destitute and need to buy medicines every month,” she says, adding that on one occasion Ghulam Hassan, a Munshi in the J&K Police duped her of a gold chain of her daughter.
She says on several occasions she went to meet her local MLA Shamima Firdous who on their last meeting ridiculed her by saying that the people of the constituency don’t vote in elections. She says her son Mushtaq was most dear to her for his selfless nature toward the family. “We only want police to tell us where he is? We don’t want a job,” she says.
In 2011, Jalla and her husband Ghulam Hassan Regoo had approached the then chief minister Omar Abdullah’s private office pleading for registration of an FIR in their case but to add to the 30-year long agony Omar’s office couldn’t do any tangible help.
A letter from Omar’s private office as chief minister had asked the Director General of Police to expedite the “action taken report” in the case which Jalla says never materialized.
Mushtaq’s sister Afroza says that she had vowed to not get married till her brother returns but ultimately had to succumb after unending wait for his brother.
“The police just say that he is active. If he is active since 1990 then he would have contacted us. If he would have been in Pakistan still he could have called us,” Afroza says.
“My father has lost half his vision. They are both ailing with multiple ailments,” she says, adding that the State left a family devastated forever.
She says no non-governmental organisation or any social group has helped his parents till date
In a similar case from 1992, Sajad Ahmad Bazaz was picked up allegedly by the 30 battalions of the Border Security Force from his home in Hazratbal area of Srinagar.
Sajad’s elder brother, Fayaz Ahmad Bazaz says that he is now dejected of the court.
“My brother’s disappearance case is in the court. The person accompanying the BSF then is in Bihar. He was the one who identified my brother. The court last week asked the police as to why they are failing to present him before the court,” Fayaz says, adding that his brother had no militant or any other suspicious links.
“He was a shopkeeper and had no links with anybody,” he says. He says over the years he went to every power corridor. “I even met Rajesh Pilot.” He says in 1997 he identified the Commanding Officer accompanying the 30 Battalion on the day his brother was picked.
“I identified D.S Rathore the commanding officer at Pantha Chowk during a proceeding initiated by the BSF,” he says, adding that nothing happened afterwards.
He says he knows that his brother was taken to the Nigeen club which ten used to serve as an interrogation centre. “I want justice. I want to know what happened to my brother,” he says, adding that he hasn’t married till date. “My father died some years back with an unfulfilled desire to see his son. We are devastated,” he says.
According to Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), nearly 8000-10000 people between 1989 and 2006.
“A majority of those disappeared are young men, including minors, others include people of all ages, professions and backgrounds, many of whom have no connection with the armed opposition groups operating in Kashmir,” the APDP claims.