Maryam Jaan cried for days after she lost her mother in cross fire
UNISOO (HANDWARA): A 14-kilometre drive from Sopore, across a stream to the left of the Sopore-Kupwara highway, Unisoo is one of the bigger villages of district Kupwara’s Handwara Tehsil. The hamlet had no sleep the intervening night of 10th and 11th December, 2017, when an all-night encounter killed not just three Pakistani militants but Mysara Begum (23), a housewife, as well. Mysara was shot dead in the cross-firing between government forces and the militants, leaving behind her baby daughter, Maryam, then eight months old. Maryam is now in her eleventh month and an orphan.
The name ‘Maryam’ is derived from that of Mary, the mother of Jesus, but this little one’s tragedy is that her mother is someone she must live without for the rest of her life.
Many parts of the Kashmir Valley received their first snowfall in that encounter night when Unisoo village received its first female martyr. Thousands are said to have attended Mysara’s funeral, braving the winter’s chilling cold and snow.
According to reports, three foreign militants and a civilian were killed in the overnight operation, but little did anyone know that the incident had an eight-month-old eyewitness whose life it would turn upside down.
Mohammed Shabaan Mir, 50, the father of the late Mysara and a labourer by profession, sits in the front room of his house with Maryam playing in his lap. She knows nothing as yet of the tragic fact she will have to live with, of her mother’s falling to an exchange of bullets between militants and government forces.
“Our whole family was forced to leave our house that night, except my mother-in-law who cannot move an inch because of many complications,” recounted Maryam’s grandfather, Shabaan Mir. “So my daughter Mysara was holding Maryam in her lap. All of us were drenched as rainfall had just started. Mysara tried to go inside the house to have a look at her grandmother, but she was shot in the head in the dark. Maryam fell to the ground, but we were not allowed to move an inch as a flash light was shone on us and we were ordered not to make a move.
“After her mother died that night, Maryam cried for days, and no one could stop her crying. She was searching for her mother all the time, she didn’t take milk the whole day. It was only after she got tired crying that I somehow managed to make her sleep,” Shabaan Mir recalled.
“These two-and-a-half months have been the most difficult phase in our lives as we have to witness every day the way Maryam’s eyes search for her mother in every woman who visits our house. She still calls for her mother sometimes, but she never finds her and so she starts crying. Every daughter needs her mother, but Maryam is without one now,” Shabaan Mir told Kashmir Reader.
“Now Maryam sits with me all the time, she never lets me out of her sight. I have stopped going out for work as Maryam cannot sit without me; if I even go to attend nature’s call, she cries a lot.”
The grandfather does everything related to Maryam and her needs, from giving her milk through a feeder to diaper changing. But at the end, a mother is a mother and no one can take her place in anyone’s life,” Shabaan Mir lamented.
Ishfaq Ahmad Wani (22), the husband of the late Mysara, was a live-in son-in-law and is presently without work. He was not at home when this reporter visited their place, but Shabaan Mir has no plans of sending him back to his parents’ home. He says that they will instead search for a girl for him and a mother for Maryam.
The FIR related to Mysara’s killing was registered in Handwara police station, but Shabaan Mir did not have the FIR’s number and knows nothing about the investigation and whether or not it has as yet led anywhere.
Mohammed Shabaan Mir’s family was utterly shattered the night his daughter was killed but they have received no help till date from the government. Apart from Yasin Malik, no official or any minister has ever paid them a single visit.