Younis Bhat, who died of brain haemorrhage, joined the Hizb when he was in Class 8; but when he was in need of work, people shunned him
Srinagar: Naseer Ahmad Bhat, brother of the recently slain Hizbul Mujahideen militant, Mohammad Younis Bhat, told Kashmir Reader that his brother had a miserable life, ten years of which were spent in jail, and the torture he suffered at the hands of government forces was as painful as the rejection he suffered from the Kashmiri society.
“My brother dedicated his entire life for Islam and for the Kashmir nation,” Naseer said. “It is extremely hypocritical that people turn militants into heroes when they are killed, but when they are alive, they only get one thing from society: rejection and suffering.”
“Everybody loves a dead mujahid (fighter for Islam). But nobody likes a ‘former’ militant. They choke and die silently,” Naseer said.
In 2012, Naseer said, his brother was released from jail six months after his mother had died. “He was not old, but the struggle made him look like one,” Naseer said. “He was not allowed to even offer funeral prayers for our mother. He was brought the next day of her death, for one hour, in shackles.”
Younis, a resident of Khanmoh, died at the age of 39 from a brain haemorrhage. He had been a Hizb militant since he was in Class 8. He was arrested, released and re-arrested several times. Most of his imprisonment he spent at Srinagar Central Jail and Kot Balwal Jail in Jammu.
“Whenever he would be released from jail, he would join the fighters again,” Naseer said. “When he was in custody, he was severely tortured. He received a bullet on his leg once. It was due to these horrible tortures that he had injuries in many of his body organs, making it difficult for him to do even normal work.”
Even when out of jail, Younis would be often detained by police on various “pretexts”, Naseer said.
But that was not all of his suffering. The responsibility of an ailing father, three unmarried sisters, and a younger brother compelled him to undertake whatever work he could lay his hands on, no matter if his tortured body could barely tolerate it.
“He had a family to feed. His father, Ghulam Bhat, was unwell,” Younis’s freind, Mubashir Ahmad, told Kashmir Reader. “But he was unable to do any work. He was in extreme depression. Nobody came with a helping hand, neither the community, nor any individual.”
Wandering in search of work, Younis failed to find any job that could suit him. “He was rejected by the owners of small-scale industries. They told him they could not employ a former militant. They told him that if they employed him, they would invite the wrath of the government. I was shocked at how callous people could be! He received only rejections from people,” Mubashir said.
Younis took to working as a labourer with masons. He would work from dawn to dusk.
“He would prepare the mortar – the mix of cement and sand,” Mubashir said. “It led to deterioration in his health. But he kept working, for his family.”
Later, Younis was helped by a friend in getting a job at a wiring factory. “He would get a minimum wage of 4,000 rupees,” Naseer said. “He would run the household with that little money. I undertook driving as a profession to help him. But my brother was living in a very painful condition. It was the torture that had affected him the most. You cannot imagine the condition of a person who has gone through repeated physical torture. His body bore marks of hot iron rods.”
Naseer said his brother abandoned the idea of ever getting married. He would often say, “How will I sustain a family when I cannot even sustain myself?”
“He was just concerned about his three unmarried sisters,” Naseer said.
A month ago, Younis complained about his health and went to see the doctor. “The doctor diagnosed him with having kidney stones,” Naseer said. “Last week, he was offering prayers at the local Jamia Masjid. He felt ill. He sat against the pillar and called me. We took him to hospital, where the doctors told us he suffered from brain haemorrhage. His blood pressure remained constant at 280/30 for a day. Then he expired.”
His friends told Kashmir Reader that Younis was a noble, honest, and extremely dignified man.
“He always loved dignity. He would never take money from people. He was sympathetic and had a humane heart. He bore no ill will against anybody. He respected everybody. His qualities were known among everybody here,” Mubashir said.
One of his colleagues in the factory said, “Younis was a spiritual man.”
“He would often complain that he could not work as he was not in good health. I told him I would do his share of work, but he should keep coming (to work),” the colleague said and broke down.
There was unanimity among the friends that Younis lived for Kashmir and Islam. “However, when people raise slogans, it seems hollow to us. The people do not mean it in reality,” his friends said. “Death is not the only end of fighters; some people survive, and need to be supported. The society, though, condemns them to their fate.”
Even after he passed away, Younis received no tribute from people. “Thousands of people offered his funeral prayers,” Naseer said. “They raised slogans in favour of Azadi. They termed his as a shaheed (martyr). But his family continues to suffer. The sisters remain unmarried, the father ill.”