Tahir Mir’s father was a police constable who was killed while driving the car of the SP; a first-semester journalism student, he was recently sacked from his Class IV job in the education dept
Bandipora: For the Jammu Kashmir Police, 24-year-old Tahir Mir, the orphaned son of a police constable who was killed in the line of duty, is the most criminal Azadi activist in Bandipora. Recently shifted to Srinagar Central Jail from Kot Balwal Jail in Jammu, Tahir Mir has 13 FIRs against him, on such charges as stone-throwing and disrupting law and order. He has also been detained under the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA) on the orders of Deputy Commissioner Bandipora. A first-semester student of journalism at Kashmir University, Tahir Mir was recently sacked from his job in the State Education Services where he worked as a laboratory bearer.
Tahir’s father Habibullah Mir was serving as the driver to then Superintendent of Police Showkat Ahmad Malik when the police convoy he was travelling in was attacked in Sopore on the Hygam-Magam highway in April 2000. Police later said that the attack was meant to assassinate the Superintendent of Police but it was Habibullah who lost his life. Tahir’s mother Safeera was unable to bear the shock and passed away within six months. Tahir was a Class 4 student at Eaglets Public School in Plan Bandipora at that time.
Tahir had written this in 2013
How hard was it to go through that road
all alone to my destiny across that mode
giving the feeling of sitting on a boat
making it hard not to go for my vote
quarrelling with the driver with that face
on that place gave me a hard shame
in that race that vulgar noise of the horn gave me a blow
when my emotions were in deep flow
feeling for the cause makes me feel
that wounds of the road are never going to heal
when will it come to an end
Police say Tahir has organised hundreds of rallies in and around Bandipora town since the killing of Hizbul Mjuahideen commander Burhan Wani. The police dossier against him reads, “You are a stigma for peace-loving citizens and have disturbed the sound sleep of the citizens of Bandipora area and have been often found instigating/provoking the local youth of Bandipora town and adjacent areas to play a violent role in present agitation and to make the shutdown calls given by separatists successful. You being the employee of the education department have been found leading the unlawful processions which were organised and mobilised by you with the intention to provoke and instigate the people against the Government of India and State as well, knowing that such activities are highly prejudicial to the maintenance of public order.”
What prompted Tahir to come out on the streets during the uprising of 2016? His elder brother Abid Mir said, “The always smiling Tahir would fall gloomy with every news of death that came when the uprising began. Tahir was not a stone-thrower. He never threw a stone. His main aim was to enlighten youth like him about the promises made by India to Kashmir for the right to self-determination. His activities were based on the freedom of speech granted by the Constitution of India. He would say to us, ‘I am not committing anything unconstitutional, nor am I breaking any law. I have been given the freedom to speech and I am using it. It’s my right.’”
When the uprising broke out after the killing of Burhan Wani, Tahir began a small trust called Faraiez-e-Muslimeen whose main participants were his friends. They would contribute savings and then distribute them among the poor, widows and orphans. Tahir knew what it was to be an orphan. He did not want anyone to suffer what he had suffered.
“Tahir was a child when our parents passed away,” said Abid, who runs a small groceries store in Bandipora. “Our sister was in Class 2, I was in Class 6, and Zakir, our eldest brother, was in Class 8. Zakir, when he reached 18 years of age, began working as a constable in the police department. He, the ‘big brother’, is our father, brother, everything. We cannot recall our parents. I have some faint memories of them but Tahir and our younger sister have only known Zakir as their guardian. Our grandmother was the one whom Tahir considered as his mother. When she passed away, at the age 65, Tahir could not bear the loss. At that time, he was in hiding. Police were frequently raiding our home, and of our relatives, neighbours, to arrest him, so we had sent him away. But he risked everything for the last glimpse of his grandmother. He came home on the day she died.”
“When Tahir got his first salary, he handed it to her and also bought her a pheran,” Abid said. “Such was the bond they shared. Maybe the separation from the grandson killed her. Otherwise she was not ill at all.”
In 2012, after finishing his school, Tahir was selected as a Class IV employee in the education department. He left for Gurez where he spent two years and came back to Bandipora to serve in a government middle school. “There he would take so much care of the poor kids that he would spend his own money on their clothes and hair cut,” Abid said.
Abid had been a bright student at school, earning a distinction in the board exams. Even after he found employment, he did not give up studying. He was selected for the masters in journalism at Kashmir University’s MERC. He loved writing.
“To do the journalism course, he applied for a no-pay leave of two years,” Abid said. “But before his career could have taken a new turn, it was destroyed by the government. The future that he saw for himself and spoke about to us so eloquently, now looks no more than a shattered dream.”
During the long curfew that the government imposed last year in the wake of the popular uprising, Tahir had led from the front the community relief efforts of Bait-ul-Maal. “He went to remote villages on his motorcycle, which now lies covered by a blanket of snow in the house lawn, collecting whatever he could,” Aabid shared. In those few months, Tahir had collected about four lakh rupees in donations which were later disbursed among the needy by the Grand Imam in Bandipora.
Tahir was arrested by police a day before his first-semester exams at Kashmir University.