LARKIPORA(BARAMULLA): For the last 16 years, Zana Begum, 42, has been raising her two sons singlehandedly and hoping against hope for her husband, Abdul Rashid Parra, to return.
Parra went out to work in his apple orchard in the village in 2002, but never returned. He was allegedly picked up by army from his orchard and since then there is no news of him.
“I will return soon,” Zana remembers her husband telling him as he left for the orchard that fateful morning.
“I still remember the moment when he left home last time wearing a pheran and carrying a radio set along,” she says. “He left home at 9 in the morning. He told me he would return soon, but he never did.”
Zana says two army vehicles came and stopped near the orchard located “half a kilometer away from our home,” and “kidnapped” him from there.
She says some women in the neighbourhood had heard the noise but thought it may be someone else.
“He would have tried to flee away but few months back, a man was shot dead by the Indian army when he tried to flee after army men called him to go along with them,” Zana said.
She said the family, unaware of his fate, was waiting for Para to return but when he did not turn up even by night, they went to the orchard to look for him.
“We found only the pheran and a radio set there,” she said.
They kept searching him for a few days, at all places they could think of, like relatives and friends, but found no traces of him.
Later their search turned to lockups and jails, as “the army and the police taking away men without any reason was the norm those days”.
“We went to Kot Bhawal, Srinagar Central Jail and every other jail in Kashmir,” she said. “But we did not find him anywhere.”
After finding no clue of him, the family lodged a complaint with Police Station Kunzer.
The police complaint, a copy of which lies with Kashmir Reader, mentions that “On 16th of November 2002, Abdul Rashid Parra went missing after security persons kidnapped him from his orchard while he was working there”.
It adds, “The unknown security forces that were in two army vehicles stopped there and picked him with the intention to kill him”. “Efforts were made by us but we could not trace him anywhere,” it read.
Zana says they kept visiting the police station regularly, but without any success.
“One day the police told me that my husband was untraceable,” Zana recalls. “They made an SRO case, but we never got anything from that.”
In her husband’s absence Zana has faced a lot of challenges, especially financial hardships.
“The financial challenges we face are plenty. Getting a ration card, bank accounts or even transferring the husband’s property becomes difficult as a death certificate is required for all,” she said.
“We have been running from pillar to post for 16 years to get justice, but we never got anything,” Zana says.
Her elder son, Tajamul Rashid, now a 12th class student was unaware of his father’s fate, till he was 8.
“Hiding the truth about the disappearance of his father was painful, but I had to do it,” Zana says.
In 2011, Zana joined the Associaiton of Parents of Disappeared Persons, and joins them in protest on the 10th of every month, holding the picture of his husband.
Her relatives have been urging her to remarry, but she doesn’t want to. “I live my life for my two sons. I want to educate them and want to see them on a good position.”
Tajamul Rashid Parra is a 12th class student at an orphanage and her second son Touseef Rashid Parra is an 11th class student at the local school.
“We are facing lot of hardships without him” Zana says. “He will return and fulfill his long pending promises,” she said with tears rolling down her cheeks.