Shahgund, Hajin: A 21-year-old college student has set out on a tedious mission to track down the killers of her father, a former militant, who was shot dead by unknown assailants 22 years ago. Orphaned at 3, Romma’s mother remarried a year later laving the infant daughter with her grandfather.
Resident of Shahgund village in Hajin belt of north Kashmir’s Bandipora district, once a hotbed of private militia Ikhwan backed by the Indian army, Romma, a second year undergraduate student at Degree College Sopore wants to know about the killers of her father, their identity and purpose. Her unending questions to her grandfather, who is quickly losing his hearing ability with age, have not yielded any satisfying answers. “With each passing day, the void in my life with the absence of my parents increases. This gives me sleepless nights,” Romma told Kashmir Reader.
On June 8, 1995, Romma recalls, at 4:20 pm, her father Riyaz Ahmad Dar was killed by ‘unknown gunmen’ when he was riding his scooter to buy stock for his grocery store in Hajin.
Riyaz Ahmad was a former militant associated with Hizbul Mujahidin. He had laid down his arms only a year after joining the outfit. That time pro-government Ikhwan was dominating the area with its epicenter in Hajin. “Despite threats from Ikhwanis, Riyaz didn’t join them”, Romma says, quoting her grandfather. Riyaz, instead got married and started a small business to run a normal life. Ironically, two years later he was shot dead.
“He was shot from a point blank range–two bullets pierced his chest” Romma says pointing towards own body.
Despite engaging in studies Romma was continuously haunted by the absence of her parents. Finally, she took a decision to know about the killers of her father. “For the past five months, I am moving from pillar to post. The authorities turn me down with excuses,” she said.
“I have been told that no FIR has been registered on my father’s killing. The SHO of Hajin police station told me there was no record of my father’s killing available,” Romma said.
‘I also met with deputy commissioner and senior superintendent of police (SSP) to seek my father’s case, but as of now I have only met with disappointment” Romma said.
“The DC had ordered an enquiry but they say ‘we have found no relevant documents as of now’, the police says we are investigating, but why can’t the police file an FIR and start investigation?” she asks.
“Time is running out,” Romma obliquely refers to her settlement in life. “I want to get justice for my father,” she said.