Srinagar: A week before JKLF commander Ishfaq Majid Wani left for the eternal world, my friend Shakeel Ahmad Bakshi called me.
“Yasin Malik is a heart patient and Sheikh Abdul Hamid is also not feeling well since he got injured. Please interview them. Islamic Students League (ISL) will preserve the tape for future generations,” he said.
Shakeel sent me to a place in down town. I reached on time and waited for the commanders. After an hour or so, all of them came. I told them about the purpose of my visit.
Ishfaq spoke like a matured politician. “I do not want to make a statement in haste. You frame questions and give it to me. I will come with answers the next week,” he said.
I later handed the questionnaire.
Meanwhile, the holy month of Ramadhan commenced. On the third day of Ramadhan, a friend from Hawal, Srinagar, called me and informed me about Ishfaq’s death.
I rushed out and saw Mushtaq Ahmad Sargar (pro-freedom leader, Mahmood Sagar’s brother) with Ishfaq’s Afghan cap.
“Ishfaq’s body is in Police Control Room and I got this cap from there,” he said.
A few persons accompanied me to the Control Room. I saw Ishfaq’s body on a table. His cheeks were red notwithstanding the blood he had lost because of his injuries. One of his hands was missing. He had lost it to a grenade explosion.
A person accompanying me removed Ishfaq’s Phiran, reduced to tatters in the explosion.
“I will give it to Shakeel Bakshi. He will preserve it,” he said.
My questionnaire remained unanswered.
The body was later taken to Sarai Bala where it was wrapped in a JKLF flag. People from all parts of Srinagar defied curfew and reached Sarai Bala. He was later taken to Lachmanpora via Magarmal Bagh where a large number of people offered Nimmaz-e-Jinaza.
Incidentally, it happened to be the area that housed the first office of ISL. Ishfaq was one of the founders of this organization.
The body was taken to Edigah for burial in the afternoon where thousands of people were waiting. He was laid to rest besides an empty grave reserved for JKLF ideologue, Maqbool Bhat.
Hundreds of thousands of people attended Ishfaq’s rasam-e-qul, where Bakshi raised the slogan Anaaj Ugao Azadi Pao (grow grains and get freedom).