April 2003 News

Mufti's Relief Still Eludes Mason's Widow

13 April 2003
The Indian Express

Srinagar: The killing of her husband in custody had been the first major embarrassment for the then month-old Mufti Mohammed Sayeed government. Five months later, the widow of Abdul Hamid Wani is yet to receive the relief, which top functionaries of the ruling PDP had promised her. Farida, widow of the slain mason, says her patience is now running out even as she hears that the Chief Minister has doled out appointment letters to hundreds of violence victims. Police continue to raid her house at Mochu, Nowgam, on one pretext or the other. The last one was conducted by the Crime Branch, which questioned her on the circumstances that led to her husband's death. Wani's killing on November 30 last had sparked widespread protests. As it was the first case of custodial killing reported during the new PDP-Congress rule, his death and police's 'cooked-up' suicide story received wide media coverage and strong reaction from rights bodies. Result: top ruling party functionaries, including Mehbooba Mufti, rushed to the victim's family and assured a magisterial probe and relief. A probe was ordered and Nowgam SHO Gazanfar Ali was suspended. But this was not the first time that Ali had been suspended. As the SHO of Achabal, Ali had been served a suspension order following the killing of nine civilians during a protest rally at Brakpora in April 2000. So much for official action, the Government is yet to show its 'human face' in the Wani case. Relief has eluded Farida and her three children. 'We lost our sole bread- earner. I am an illiterate housewife, who will give me a job? At least, they (PDP) could give me the relief they had promised,' she told The Indian Express. Pointing to the children, Farida says: 'Their future is bleak. How do I feed, clothe and educate them?' Her eldest son, Younis, is a Class IX student and says he is often reprimanded for not paying school fees. 'The teachers ask me to pay fees, Rs 180 a month.' His younger brother, Latif, is in Class III, while sister, Shagufta Hamid, is in Class II. 'I fear they may have to give up school. How will I manage their tuition fee, books and uniform?' says Farida, adding that the tailor's bill for their uniform is Rs 1,000. 'It's still unpaid.' The family manages two meals from the meagre rent paid by some labourers from Bihar. Farida wants to know how the new government claims it is working 'with a difference'. She says PDP vice-president Mehbooba Mufti had visited their house, not far from the CM's Nowgam residence, and assured all help. Mehbooba, who had also addressed the protesters at Mochu on December 4, was accompanied by local MLA Javaid Ahmed Mir and PDP district president Ghulam Nabi Lone. 'Were these mere words? Cops come often to search the house on one pretext or the other. The Crime Branch, too, came to ask questions,' says Farida's brother Nazir Ahmed.


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