'My Son Won't Return But I Will Die Satisfied If Justice Is Done'
27 April 2006
The Indian Express
Anantnag: 'Tell the government to be fair to this mother. See that justice is done' says Raja Bano. Her son Zahoor Ahmad Dalal was among the five villagers killed by the Army in a fake 'encounter' and passed off as foreign militants behind the massacre of 35 Sikhs in Chittisinghpora. As reported by The Indian Express today, the CBI is all set to chargesheet five Army officers, including a Brigadier, for the murder of five unarmed, innocent Kashmiris in the infamous Pathribal 'encounter' in Anantnag in March 2000. Raja Bano says her appeal is not just to the government in New Delhi but also to the one in J&K. She wants the state government to punish its police personnel involved in the incident. If the Centre, she says, can act against the Armymen involved, 'what's holding back the state government?' For six years, Raja Bano has lived alone in her huge bungalow. Zahoor was her only son. 'I told everybody that though we have no power to punish the guilty, justice will take its course. I am happy the guilty have been identified. It will not return my innocent son, but at least I will die satisfied.' For the families of the five killed, the last six years have been an everyday struggle to forget. The mere mention of Pathribal means revisiting the day and the dreaded night of April 22, 2000 when their kin went missing, only to be recovered a week later from separate jungle graves. For the two Gujjar families of Brari Angan, the horror started at midnight with a knock on the door. And for the other three, their sons disappeared, one after another, in broad daylight. 'When my husband was taken that night, I thought he would be freed because he was elderly. But they killed him,' says Roshan Jan, wife of Juma Khan who was one of those killed. When she heard that the officers involved were to be chargesheeted, she sat down in prayer.