YARIPORA (Kulgam): When he was 15 years old, Tawseef Ahmed Sheikh was arrested for the murder of a policeman and for having links with militants. This happened in the year 2012. The next three years he spent in jail, booked under the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA). Before being put in jail, his friends, relatives and neighbours say, he was severely tortured at different interrogation centres.
“As he was a juvenile, Towseef was released after three years of imprisonment. He spent his time in jail studying. He passed his matriculation and Class 12 exams while he was in jail,” said a family friend and neighbour in Tawseef’s native Kunjkulla village in Kulgam district.
During his time in jail, the neighbour said, whenever his parents visited him, Tawseef would always seek their forgiveness for not fulfilling his responsibilities towards them. “He would always tell them that once he is released from jail, he will never let them do any household chores,” the neighbour said.
Another neighbour described Tawseef as a deeply religious and humble boy. A relative of Tawseef said, “He was severely tortured before he was sent to Central Jail Srinagar. He suffered a fracture in his nose due to the torture. Torture marks were visible on his knees and thighs, even three years later when he was released from jail.”
Even after he was released, the relative said, police did not stop harassing and mentally torturing Tawseef by frequently summoning him to different police stations and interrogation camps.
“Because of his horrible experience at police stations and interrogation camps, Tawseef always refused to visit the places he was summoned to,” the relative said.
A schoolmate and neighbour of Tawseef told Kashmir Reader that after his release, Tawseef started teaching the Quran to children of his locality. “Every time he was summoned by the police, he would tell us that responding to such summons would mean bowing before the police,” the schoolmate said.
In September last year, Tawseef left home to join militant ranks. He soon became close to Hizbul commander Yasin Yatoo.
Tawseef is survived by aged and ailing parents, four brothers and four sisters. Three of his sisters are married while his brothers are still bachelors.
Tawseef, according to his schoolmate, was highly influenced by Jamaat-e-Islami ideology. His elder brother Irshad Ahmed is a member of the Jamaat. It was Irshad who led the fourth and final round of funeral prayers for his slain brother. According to locals, Irshad has been arrested by police several times, during the 2009-2010 unrest and during last year’s agitation. He is a postgraduate and teaches at a local school run by the Jamaat. He commands great respect in the area.
“Tawseef’s father suffered a heart attack when Tawseef was in jail. Since then, he has become bedridden. The family has always suffered for being truthful and sincere towards the Kashmir cause,” said a local.
Thousands of people gathered to participate in Tawseef’s funeral prayers on Wednesday in his native village. People were seen jostling to have his last glimpse and to kiss his forehead. Azadi and anti-India slogans rang out everywhere as Tawseef was buried in the local martyrs’ graveyard.
Tawseef was killed on Tuesday when government forces blew up with explosives the house from within which he was fighting the troops in Chadoora village in Budgam district. He had rejected the offer of surrender made to him by the government troops.