Brother tells of harassment the family faced from police
Sopore: At first it was thought to be a rumour. On Tuesday afternoon, people in Sopore began to hear that Abdul Qayoom Najar, also known as “Jan Sahib” and “Ishfaq”, was killed in a gunfight with the army in the morning. It became the talk of the town. Nobody was sure. In the evening, there appeared photographs of the dead body on social networking sites.
Shopkeepers started to shutter down their shops. The markets began to empty. People moved fast to the safety of their homes. Within half an hour, Sopore town was converted into a ghost town. No human soul was seen on the roads, except on the one that went to the newly-built house of Qayoom Najar’s brothers at Kranshivan Colony. On that road was a huge rush – youth, most of all, along with men, women, children, all heading to have a last glimpse of the man who had rarely been seen by anyone. Were it not for the darkness of the night, the crowd that gathered at Kranshivan Colony would have been much larger.
As soon as Najar’s body was brought to his brothers’ home from Baramulla police station, people started chanting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans. The body was taken inside the house, where his aged parents and other family members were waiting to have a last look at his face.
A handicapped man who had come to attend the funeral began shouting, “There is only one solution!”, pointing his stick in the air like a gun. The gathered mourners responded: “Gun solution, Gun solution!”
After the body was brought out of the house, preparations for the funeral prayers were made in the playground in front of the house. The prayers were held quickly, keeping in mind that it was late in the night and people had to return to their homes, some located quite far away.
Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral prayers. It was reported that scores of men from the Gujjar community, who resided in tents near his house, also attended.
After his funeral, a procession carried the body through the streets of old-town Sopore, shouting slogans. People who were sleeping in their homes came out and joined the procession. Many women came out of their homes with bare feet and walked with the procession till it reached the Sopore martyrs’ graveyard located at Tawheed Bagh. Here, Qayoom Najar was laid to eternal rest.
It was said that Najar had willed to be buried in the Tawheed Bagh graveyard, where his brother-in-law had been buried some years ago. He was a militant, too.
Najar worked as an electrician before he became a militant, his brother Abdul Rashid Najar told Kashmir Reader. Qayoom Najar lived in Mumkak Mohalla of Sopore town when he left home to join militancy in the early ’90s. He was studying in Class 9 when he was arrested for the first time by government forces in 1992. He was released after six months. He was later arrested many times by government forces and was tortured to the extent that his back developed a major disc problem, which later spread to his leg, Abdul Rashid said.
“He left studies when he was in Class 12 and started working as an electrician. He would make electric transformers and work in government projects of electrical fitting at panchayat houses. Due to the continuous harassment by government forces, he had to give up the normal life,” Abdul Rashid said.
The experience of working as electrician came in handy in preparing and planting IEDs (improvised explosive devices), for which Qayoom became famous.
“Till 2004, government forces arrested him many times accusing him of working with militants as an OGW (over-ground worker), but he never left home. He used to spend his jail term and come back home. But when a small quarrel with a neighbour happened, who later filed a complaint at police station Sopore, and even though he apologised to the neighbour in front of the mohalla committee, the police asked him to report again to the station. That time, our brother completely went underground and never came back to his home,” a cousin of Qayoom told Kashmir Reader.
“After that, the government forces started harassing our family, friends and relatives. We were forced to leave our old house at Mumkak Mohalla. But wherever we went, government forces followed us. We lived on rent for more than three years at different places, until we constructed our own house at Kranshivan Colony,” Abdul Rashid said.
“When he left in 2004, he never came back. I never saw him all these years. We received just some little information about his activities from police, who used to ask us to report to police station on many occasions. There was hardly any photograph of him, and the ones there were, were destroyed by him, as we found out later after he left. The sketch that the police had of him was of my eldest brother’s, as his face resembled Qayoom’s,” Abdul Rashid said.
“In 2010, police informed us that Qayoom Najar had been killed in an encounter at Kranshivan Sopore, but when we went to identify the body, it was not him,” Abdul Rashid said.
“In 2015, two women came to our home and gave us a child, along with a bag of clothes and a letter, and left without telling us anything. We came to know after reading the letter that the child was our brother Qayoom’s son. Later we handed over that letter to police for our safety. Qayoom’s son is two years old now,” Abdul Rashid said.
“We had no information about his marriage. We have never seen his wife. It is said that she went underground, too, after she married my brother,” Abdul Rashid added.
“In 2016, the police again asked us to report to the Sopore station. They wanted us to tell them the whereabouts of Najar. According to them, the recent attacks on mobile towers and the killing of six civilians was done by our brother. We told the police we did not know anything. The police told us to close the main gate of our house before dusk and to not come out in evening hours. We followed the orders,” Abdul Rashid said.
According to Abdul Rashid, Qayoom was a kind man and a firm religious believer, who never missed prayers. He had a habit of donating blood to patients in need.
Qayoom was 43 years old when he was killed. He is survived by four brothers, one sister, his parents, and his two-year-old son.