family still awaits its missing member
is this Democracies in India ?
SRINAGAR, Nov 17: Two decades are about to pass, but a family of Muran village of Pulwama district is still hopeful that their family head will return who was picked up by the Border Security Force (BSF) and is missing in their custody.
Sajad Saleem was then six years old, when his father Muhammad Afzal Sheikh, a government teacher was picked up by the paramilitary troopers of BSF 142 battalion in November 1990. Sajad said that 20 years is long time, "Despite the long time I am still optimistic of my father returning some day," he said.
He remembers his father's arrest and added, "I still remember that cold night of 1990 when my father was arrested from the house by a BSF raiding party. In the family we all knew my father was innocent and will be released soon. But that never happened."
Sheikh's son Sajad now a government teacher adds that BSF refused his arrest and when they mounted the pressure they accepted his arrest. "When we mounted pressure, BSF accepted that they had arrested him," said Sajad. "We pleaded to the officers of the 142 battalion to allow us to meet our father. First they refused to give us an audience. Thereafter, we were not even allowed to venture near the camp where we believe our father was being held," he added.
The family moved to court in 1991. For eight years, the family contested the case in Jammu and Kashmir High Court. The court held a detailed inquiry into the missing case. "The court report clearly mentions that my father was picked up by the BSF and he disappeared in custody of the BSF," says Sajad.
Even though many people told Sajad and his family that Sheikh had probably died in custody, Salem along with his three sisters and aged mother, has not ended their search for their father. "I want BSF to tell us what happened after he was picked up," he said. "Our family will fight the case till we get justice. My father was a simple teacher. We had even produced a non-involvement (in militancy) certificate issued by a Senior Superintendent of Police in front of BSF officers. But, that too did not work," Sajad said.
To trace his father, Sajad took the help of his uncles and cousins who work with the army and the police but they too failed. "My uncles and cousins hold top posts in the army and police. Even they could not trace my father," he added.