Srinagar: With her husband Mushtaq Ahmed Nawchoo, 61, becoming ‘collateral damage’ in the clashes between protestors and government forces on July 26 near the historic Aali Masjid at Eidgah, Tasleema is now all alone and without a source of livelihood.
A dingy lane through Mirwaiz Manzil at Rajouri Kadal leads to the cramped house that was once the ‘nest’ for Mushtaq and Tasleema, right opposite the Su
fi shrine of Sheikh Murad Naqushbandi.
A desolate-looking woman opens the door and it is not hard to tell that she is Tasleema; she is the only lady present in the house.
Mushtaq, a retired government employee of the forest department, had married Tasleema some fifteen years ago, after his first wife died. “I was divorced within the first seven days of my first marriage,” Tasleema said.
The couple had no children. Tasleema said her husband never complained about it. “We lived happily,” she said.
Tasleema remembers her husband as generous and health-conscious. “He would go for morning walk daily in the nearby Eidgah ground, and follow a proper diet. He looked much younger than his age.”
Tasleema now regrets not going on those daily walks even though Mushtaq insisted that she come. “I would rarely go,” Tasleema said holding her tears.
Another quality of Mushtaq that she admired was his caring for relatives. “He regularly used to visit relatives and offered them help in whatever way possible.”
At times, Tasleema said, the divine will works in strange ways. The quality she admired in her husband became the cause of his death.
Before purchasing the house at Sokalipora after the floods of 2014, Tasleema said that she and Mushtaq used to reside in Rasgarteng in the same area. “The ration cards still hold the address of Rasgarteng depot,” Tasleema said.
Mushtaq’s brother, too, shifted to the city outskirts after the floods. As Mushtaq lived nearer to the ration depot, he used to procure the monthly ration for his brother as well.
On July 26, Tasleema remembers that there was no curfew in the old city. “I informed Mushtaq saeb that curfew had been lifted. He was watching news on the television. I told him to bring some vegetables from the market.”
“He not only brought vegetables but also the ration for himself and his brother,” said Tasleema.
At about 10:45 in the morning that day, Tasleema said he went out on his scooter without saying where he was off to. When Tasleema finished her cooking at 11:45, a neighbour came and said, “Mushtaq saeb has got injured. He has been admitted to SKIMS.”
“Some neighbours took me to SKIMS hospital. At SKIMS I saw blood oozing out through his nose, ears and mouth. The doctors were continuously wiping his blood. He had already died.” Tasleema broke down in tears as she said this.
Tasleema later came to know that her husband had been caught in clashes between protestors and government forces in Eidgah area near Aali Masjid. The place where he was headed to was Hawal, the house of the in-laws of his brother. “He was going to inform them that he had procured ration for his brother’s family,” Tasleema said, wiping her tears.
The police in their statement have maintained that Mushtaq was killed in an accident, but Tasleema says that “Due to the intense shelling from the government forces, a speeding Scooty escaping from a nearby lane collided with my husband’s scooter.”
With her husband’s bank account inaccessible to her, and reassigning his pension in her name a “hectic” process, Tasleema says she has nowhere to go. “Even for performing funeral rites of my husband, I had to take credit,” she said.
When Kashmir Reader contacted concerned SHO of the area, Mubarak Ahmed, to get details of the case, the SHO said that it was a case of accident. “Everybody knows there was no shelling from us that day, and no curfew was in place also. There are cameras at the place and CCTV footage of the day can show it,” Ahmed said.