By Nusrat Sidiq
SRINAGAR: Early in the morning, 90-year-old Ali Mohammad Dar has left his home in Chewa Budgam to travel to Srinagar where a case is listed in lower court. Aided with a walking stick he climbs the stairs at the court complex in Bemina Srinagar and takes a seat in the court room to calmly listen to the proceedings.
Every time, a hearing is listed in the murder case of his grandson Shahnawaz Ahmed Dar, Ali Muhammad comes makes his presence sure in the court. The old frail man has one last wish in life – to see justice delivered in his grandson’s case.
Shahnawaz, who was living with his in-laws at Qamarwari, was allegedly killed by the imam of a local mosque who had developed relations with Shahnawaz’s wife.
“Before I close my eyes, I want the killers to be punished who snatched the only flower from my garden. My grandson was pious and caring. He cared for me and I cared for him. Between us there was a bond which was very unique. He was my friend, grandson, son and even sometimes mother. He always used to treat me with love and affection,” says Ali Muhammad.
Shahnawaz was married to Shakeela in 2012, but the two didn’t get on well, and Shahnawaz sought counselling from a local imam Mohammad Amin Naik. While Naik promised to help resolve marital discord in Shahnawaz’s life, he allegedly developed relations with his wife and later, according to police investigations, pushed Shahnawaz into Jhelum in September 2013.
Ali Muhammad says Shahnawaz used to call him every day, but on that fateful day when he didn’t call, Ali Mohammad grew restless. The restlessness grew further when he found that Shahnawaz’s phone was switched off.
“On that day, I had a strange feeling. Something was feeling very
bad but I couldn’t express it to anyone. At night hours I began to feel restless. Family members and neighbours came around and were saying Bab Chu Az Arok yaruk wanaan, emis ma chu nairun. But I was
feeling that my Shahnawaz is not well. Somehow I managed to wait till in the morning. At around 8am we received a call from Shakeela and she was crying,” said Ali Muhammad. After hearing that Shahnawaz is missing, Ali Muhammad along with his family rushed to Qamarwari.
“I stopped at cement Kadal Bridge as if Shahnawaz was calling me Babba, Babba but I was unable to find him,” he recalls as if he had a premonition. After three days of searching Shahnawaz’s body was fished out from Jhelum, and later police investigations conclude that Naik, the imam, had befooled him into going to Cement Kadal bridge in night hours, from where he pushed him into the river. “He (Shahnawaz) used to say that Shakeela is not happy, but we didn’t pay heed. He said, she always goes to Imam’s house. I am not able to understand why she has married me if she liked imam. But we consoled him and tried to pacify the tensions between them. But we were wrong and this led to his death,” Ali Muhammad said.
In the grief of his grandson, who he raised since childhood, Ali Mohammad has written a poem, where he describes him as a person and also mentions his killing.
According to police investigation, on 29th September 2013, Shahnawaz hadgone to Naik seeking help in mending his relations with his wife. On the pretext of performing a sacred ritual, Naik told him to go to
Jhelum at cement Kadal Bridge. When Shahnawaz reached there, Naik pushed Dar into the Jehlum River.