Nazir failed to get justice or help in two decades
Handwara: Two decades after Nazir Ahmad Sheikh, 43, a resident of Yahama, Mawar in Kupwara district, lost his legs and four fingers to army torture, he has also lost hopes in “humanity”.
While Nazir hardly ever had any hopes of seeing his tormentors punished, he did, however, expect the government or society to help him with a job or financial assistance.
Living in a small two room house along with his son, Nazir has preserved the copy of an FIR registered at the Sanzipora police station, Handwara, on 12 April 1995, against 14 Dogra regiment, along with other documents that substantiate the tales of his torture.
Now, 22 years after the incident, Nazir concedes it would have been hard to remember the details, but for the repeated narrations to journalists and other visitors.
“That’s the only good thing these delegations have done to me including media, rest everyone knows neither justice was delivered nor any help provided to me,” Nazir says with a smile.
It was the winter of 1995; Nazir was walking a snow covered narrow road leading to his home, when an army vehicle making a strange sound with snow chains on its tyres stopped near him.
Nazir was picked up and taken to army camp at Qalamabad. There he learned the name of the officer who picked him up – Major Multani Bir Singh.
He spent ten days at the camp, after which he was shifted to Langate army camp, Nazir recalled.
“At Qalamabad camp, I was kept in a room with one lamp hung in the centre over my head. I was not able to see the faces of the army men properly, who continuously used roller on my legs which displaced my knee joints while its spikes created deep wounds. After every roller, hot water was spilled on my legs which scorched the wounds” Nazir said.
For ten days, Nazir says, the roller torture was done at least for three hours daily.
In between the torture, the strong voice of a Major Multani would mark a brief pause.
“He would utter say the same line, while sipping tea behind me ‘Confess that you have links with militants and you have a gun to surrender’. After a brief pause, army men would again start torturing me,” Nazir said.
At the Langate army camp, Nazir says, torture didn’t stop, “it was rather “enhanced”
“Every day I was beaten with sticks. My legs were stretched in opposite directions to the extent that I was not able to breathe with pain. Electric shocks were given to my body including in private parts, a spiky iron rod was rolled over my legs and hot water spilled over my wounds,” he said.
He also recalls how he was forced to crawl on ice at least for two hours and later forced to sit near coal fired heating stove.
“One day Major Multani pushed my left hand into the bukhari (fire stove) burning my four fingers completely.”
When his condition deteriorated and puss started oozing out from injuries, Nazir says, he was taken to Baramulla army hospital and from there to military hospital at Badamibagh, Srinagar where he remained under treatment for 12 days.
“I was treated but my condition was not improving, instead it worsened. Then I was thrown outside the camp during night on the road to die. I was lying on road for nearly an hour before a taxi driver picked me up and took me to police control room, Srinagar. Police took me to Bone & Joints Hospital, Barzulla and informed my family,” he said.
Nazir’s father Abdul Jabbar Sheikh, said that they were looking for him everywhere and had even approached Major Multani, who denied any information about him. Then after more than a month, the B&J hospital informed them about Nazir.
“When we reached there (hospital), he was almost dead. He was left like a piece of meat. For seven months he was under treatment and again after that he was admitted for two months for further treatment. Two surgeries were done on him by Dr. Sethi in which his legs and four fingers of left hand were amputated,” Jabbar said.
Before his torture, Nazir used to work as a mason. He survived the torture, but his life turned upside down.
“Not only did I lose my limbs, a precious piece of ancestral land was sold to buy artificial limbs. My wife divorced me a year later,” Nazir said.
After every two to three years, the artificial limbs have to be replaced, costing around Rs 30,000.
“I am left with nothing. In the following years, I even lost hope in humanity. After making me handicapped for a fabricated crime, I thought government will help me but I was left unattended,” Sheikh said.
He says, that after pursuing procedures for a job, the deputy commissioner Kupwara told him that there was no provision for job for a survivor.
“He said only if a person is dead, an SRO is provided to his relative, but don’t these people see that I am already living a life of dead with nothing to achieve and live,” he laments.
“Everybody took my reports and statements but neither justice was delivered nor any help,” he added.
At times, he says, he was not allowed to enter offices of politicians or officers.
“Forget about help they were not ready to listen to my tragic tale. If this much of humanity is left in us than I would say animals are better than us.”
However, Nazir added, that despite losing hope, he would continue to knock the doors of government
“It makes me feel I am better than them and I am the fighter who is fighting for his right. This is life and you have to live it,” he concluded.