Valley dad begs for body, if not son
A man’s desperate pleas to militants to release his abducted soldier son but acceptance at the same time that he would bear no grudge if they consented only to send back the body has brought to the fore a dilemma that many Kashmiri fathers face when their children join the security forces.
The father, Shopian resident Manzoor Ahmad, in the video appeal on Friday urges the militants to forgive and release his son, Territorial Army soldier Shakir Manzoor, but concedes that the insurgents are well within their rights to kill the army man.
“My son was in the army, was an armyman. It is your job to fight the army, I have no complaints against you if you have killed him,” Ahmad says in Urdu. “I will have no complaints if the Mujahideen has abducted and killed him, but I will have a complaint if his body is not returned to me.”
Many locals in Kashmir address militants as Mujahideen, a term of reverence that roughly translates to holy warrior. It is understandable for a father whose son could be in militants’ custody to use the word.
“Don’t give me my son back (alive),” Ahmad says in the video before adding in the same breath: “If you don’t want to forgive (him), then return his body. I won’t reproach you.”
Shakir, a resident of Reshipora village in Shopian, was reportedly abducted by militants on August 2. He had been dragged out of his car, which was torched, and taken away.
The security forces are yet to trace the soldier. Police sources said locals found clothes purportedly of the soldier at three places in nearby Landoora village on Friday morning.
The video of Ahmad’s appeal was shot when he had accompanied security forces to identify the clothes. Army men and sniffer dogs can also be seen in the video.
The soldier’s abduction has triggered panic among families whose members are in the security forces or the police.
Ahmad’s appeal is a reflection of the conflict that many fathers have to go through in Kashmir, a place so mired in complexities and a sufferer of repression and reprisal for so long that simple binaries of right or wrong dissolve into a gray area.
Kashmiri fathers need their sons to land decent jobs, for which they apparently approve of their wards’ decision to join the security forces or the police. Thousands are inducted into the forces every year.
On the other side, dozens of Kashmiri youths join militancy every year, many against the wishes of their parents. Joining militancy, at whose heart lies a struggle for “azadi (freedom)” for Kashmir, is fraught with risks and often ends in premature death.
Thousands of Kashmiris traditionally join the funerals of militants but only a handful, relatives and acquaintances, are part of the last journeys of police and security force personnel.