June 2006 News

Kashmir Dad's Book Details Painful Search For Son

29 June 2006

Srinagar: It may never top the best sellers list, but 65-year-old Abdul Rashid hopes his small book will be some comfort to thousands of Kashmiris whose relatives have disappeared during the revolt against Indian rule. For years, Rashid desperately searched graveyards, morgues and security camps across strife-torn Kashmir for his son, Fayaz Ahmad, who was 28 when he went missing in 1997. He found nothing. 'We left no stone unturned in search of Fayaz, we searched mortuaries, hospitals, graveyards ... but we got no clue,' Rashid says in his 48- page book, written in Urdu. 'It was his marriage time and his bride is still waiting.' The book, 'Custodial Disappearances and Indifferent Rulers', details his search and his suffering. 'After more than eight years of searching, I decided to publish my horrible experience to convey to the parents of disappeared people that they are not alone in their battle, in their search,' Rashid, a retired civil servant, told Reuters. More than 45,000 people have been killed and thousands have disappeared since an insurgency broke out in 1989 in Kashmir, mainly Hindu India's only Muslim-majority state. Rashid has sent copies of his book, dedicated to Fayaz, to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. Rashid says Fayaz was working as photographer with the University of Kashmir when he was picked up by police on an autumn morning in 1997 as he left home for work. 'He did not return since then, we are still waiting,' Mariam Bano, Rashid's wife, says, tears rolling down her eyes. The family says police told them Fayaz escaped. There are no official figures for the number of people missing. But the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons says 8,000 to 10,000 have gone missing since 1989 almost all after being picked up by security forces. Authorities deny such allegations. 'We have been investigating and we are still investigating the cases of disappeared persons but have found most of these people have gone to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir for arms training,' Jammu and Kashmir police chief Gopal Sharma told Reuters. 'But whenever anybody among the security forces does something wrong, people are taken to task,' he adds. India accuses Pakistan of helping Islamist guerrillas fighting Indian forces in Kashmir but Pakistan denies the charge. 'I always ask God 'why did you take my son away from me like this',' says 70-year-old Ghulam Nabi, pointing to the photograph of his son who vanished six years ago.


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