SRINAGAR: A battalion of Indian forces that picked up a man from downtown Srinagar 24 years earlier is yet to declare his whereabouts despite repeated requests by the disappeared man’s family.
The 166 battalion of the Border Security Force (BSF) picked up Mohammad Sidiq Sofi, a top commander of indigenous militant group Ikhwan-ul-Muslimoon, from a locality in Srinagar on the intervening night of March 24 1992. The forces have neither handed over the man nor communicated anything on whether he is dead or alive to his family over these years.
Nazir Ahmad, Sofi’s nephew, told Kashmir Reader that his family left no stone unturned to trace his disappeared uncle, but failed in their attempts.
“From police stations to courts to politicians to army camps, we searched everywhere but could get nothing but promises from officers,” he said. “After the arrest of my uncle, our family filed a missing report then moved the court but nothing was achieved. In court, we twice filed the case but the Indian forces never bothered to reply and the court did nothing.”
Nazir said the JK government offered a government job and a cash amount to stop him from following the case, but he preferred to try and trace Sofi’s whereabouts.
“My uncle had left on mission to fight Indian sovereignty in Kashmir. We never deny that. We wanted to meet him if had been detained, we wanted to offer his funerals as ordained by our religion (Islam), if he was martyred. We had only these two aims, nothing else,” Nazir added.
Nazir said that he was told by officers that Sofi had fled from custody one day, as the army was en route to Budgam. “I was told that Sofi fled when his colleagues attacked the army on the way to Budgam. Sometimes I was told that he has fled to Pakistan. We did not rule out the possibility but officers had no answers to our questions. We asked them if he is in Pakistan, would not he have called the family once. Although we had tried to find him in Pakistan too,” Nazir said.
Sofi is not the only case of enforced disappearance in Kashmir. A local human rights group estimates that 10,000 people have disappeared since the anti-Indian insurgency challenging Indian sovereignty began here in late 1980’s.