Srinagar: He is a household name in Khushal Mattoo locality of Sopore, where he was born and brought up. He left his studies midway after his family faced persecution allegedly at the hands of different agencies during the mass uprising of 2008. Today, Javed Ahmad Mattoo is giving ‘sleepless nights’ to the forces operating in the volatile apple town of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district.
Youngest among the five siblings, including a sister, Javed alias Musaib quit his studies in 2010, when Kashmir Valley witnessed a street ‘intifada’ over the killing of more than 120 protesters and bystanders in police and paramilitary action. A B Sc second year student then, Javed, according to the family, went missing in the winter of 2009. Since then, his family has only heard about him through newspapers.
The family and relatives and friends who knew Javed believe that the 2008 mass uprising that saw over 60 people, mostly youth failing to bullets, changed the course of his life forever.
In his native area, Javed is still remembered as a shy boy, who was deeply inclined towards Islam. His etiquettes, his humility, and his nature of selflessness, made him a favourite boy in the area.
“He would always greet elders with a smile. He was a shy boy. He would lower his gaze on seeing women and girls pass by. His knowledge of Islam is incomparable. Even the tallest preachers would not have studied the literature which he had. He was a treasure of knowledge,” says Irshad Ahmad, a close relative.
Javed’s life took a new turn in the backdrop of 2008 agitation when tens of thousands of people took to streets across the Valley and staged protests over the transfer of 800 kanals of forestland to Amarnath Shrine Board. Police started raiding his house to arrest his brother Rayees Ahmad for his alleged participation in stone pelting, said Irshad.
“He couldn’t see his family’s harassment and humiliation. Police and army would raid their house thrice a day to arrest his elder brother Rayees. Many a times his father Abdul Gani was lifted by the forces and subjected to torture. And finally, Javed couldn’t take it more. He left his home in 2009, never to return,” he said.
Last Monday, Javed, a commander of the Lashker-e-Toiba outfit, hit the headlines after making a dramatic escape during a 20-hour fierce gun-battle in Krankshivan locality that left his associate Mehmood Bhai, a Pakistani national, dead. When the guns were blazing, police brought Javed’s mother to the encounter site to persuade her son to give up. However, unfazed Javed continued assault till he made his escape from the highly fortified area possible.
A video showing Javed’s mother wailing and pleading near the encounter site in Krankshivan went viral with hundreds of users sharing it with their friends. In the video, Rehti Begum, 53, urges her son to drop the gun. “Javed’ah lajya mouj, kartah surrender,” she says, as her two sons hold her and pass through the battleground amidst sounds of gunfire.
Javed did his primary schooling from Islamia School, Mom Kaak in 2003. Two years later, he passed his Class 10 examinations from government higher secondary school, Sopore. In 2008, he went to the Degree College Sopore. In 2009, nearly a month before the results, Javed, an Arts student went missing. His family registered a case at the police station, Sopore on February 11, 2009 two days after he left his home to get his computer repaired. Since then, none of his family members have seen him.
“Javed was a brilliant student. He was also very active in extra-circular activities. He would never miss a prayer. As soon as the muezzin would call for prayers, he would leave everything aside and rush towards the mosque. He was a down to earth person,” recalls Umer Javed, a friend and a classmate of Javed since his schooldays.
“Police atrocities have made him strong. He is a man of conviction. He is a hard nut to crack. He would give up his life but won’t lay down arms,” he added. He said the killing of his close friend Mudasir Bashir Kachroo in September 2010 also disillusioned Javed, who had a limited friend circle.
“Javed was very close to Mudasir. His killing shattered him. And see today how Javed is giving sleepless nights to the forces,” the classmate added.
Chipping in, Javed’s neighbour Bilal Ahmad said the Mattoos have borne the brunt of excesses by various agencies since 2008. “The forces did not even spare Javed’s brother-in-law and subjected him to harassment.” “Javed’s family isn’t financially well-off. His father is a fruit seller. The family obtained a bank loan to make life better. However, nothing worked well for them. The unending persecution took a toll on their business as well as personal lives,” Bilal said.
“Last week when Javed was engaged in an encounter with the troops, the residents of Khushal Mattoo and the neighbourhood villages were praying for his safety. I’m sure no one ate dinner on that night,” he added.
A senior police officer involved in anti-militancy operations contested the charges that Javed was pushed towards militancy by different agencies including police. He said Javed took up arms after coming in contact with a Hizb commander Abdul Qayoom Najar alias Jan Sahab. “Javed is currently working under the supervision of top Lashkar commander Muzaffar Molvi alias Muzza Molvi.”
“He and his associates are responsible for carrying out a series of attacks killing three policemen in Sopore. In November 2010, two CRPF troopers were killed in Pattan and their rifles snatched. He and his associates also attacked the official residence of SP, Sopore. They also carried out many grenade attacks on the forces,” the officer, insisting not to be named, told Kashmir Reader.
He alleged that more recently, Javed shot dead son of a Congress activist. He said in an attack at the police station, Sopore, Javed sustained leg injury.
“He has managed his escaped on four occasions. He also fled from Krankshivan during an overnight encounter,” the police officer added.