CHILDREN’S DAY: Three Budgam kids long for their father to return home

CHILDREN’S DAY: Three Budgam kids long for their father to return home
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BUDGAM: As children across the valley celebrated Children’s Day at schools on Wednesday, three kids of Budgam family had only one wish on lips, to see their father return home.
Maqsood Ahmad Khan, the father of Shoiab, Saba and Ridha has been detained under Public Safety Act for the last eight months.
A resident of Cheki Marag Hardepanzu, Maqsood was detained on March 28, for allegedly “harbouring militants”, after a militant, who police said was hiding in their home, was killed.
Maqsood’s arrest had left his wife and three children in a state of misery.
The family lives in a decrepit single storey house along a fast stream.
On Children’s Day, the children were sitting around a room heater in a corner, while as their mother was preparing meals for them.
Shoaib Maqsood, the eldest studies in class 3.
“I am good in English and want to become a doctor. This is my dream and I am sure I will achieve it,” Shoaib says.
Shoaib’s sisters, Ridha Maqsood and Saba Maqsood study in Ist grade and nursery respectively. All study in a private school next to their home.
Shoaib is performing well from very beginning, so is Ridha, their mother Mubeena said.
“However, the longing for their father has left them in a state of mental trauma,” she said.
Mental anguish, though, is the not the only challenge they face.
“Since the day he was detained, the school fee of these kids is unpaid. Many a times our kids were asked to leave school and now the results have been withheld by school authorities,” Mubeena said.
“On Teachers day, we shared sweets, cakes, pastry and gifts with our teachers but today when it was children’s day and parents had brought gifts for their children, we have nothing to share and nothing to celebrate because we have no money to buy sweets and gifts,” Shoaib said.
“My papa was my hope and he would bring everything for me,” he said “Since the day papa was detained under PSA and shifted to Kot Bilwal jail Jammu, we have been living the life of extreme penury.”
Shoaib said that he met his father once in custody, seven months back, when he was still lodged in Srinagar central jail.
“He hugged me, kissed my forehead through the iron bars and said ‘achai sai rahna, mai jaldi Aawu ga ghar’ (stay well and I will return home soon).’ But months have passed and I haven’t seen him.”
The entire family had gone to meet Maqsood that day.
“We talked for a few minutes before police man came and asked us to leave. That was the last time when we met each other,” he added.
Since, then he said they have no “knowledge of our father”.
“We don’t even know about his health conditions.”
“Those who commit murder or some illicit activities are kept in jail but my father did nothing. He is innocent,” Shoaib laments.
Shoaib, for now, is also eager to know his class results, withheld by the school.
“I am anxious to know my results. My friends have joined the next class and my result is still pending. Who will pay my fee. How can I continue my studies,” Shoaib said.
The unpaid fee had accrued to Rs 20,000, Mubeena said.
“How can we pay fee when we have no earning hand at home,” she added.
Shoaib added that he requests government to release his father, so that they can continue their studies.
“Papa hamey buhat yaad aaraha ha Apke. Ap k Bina to ham padd nahi paaye gai. Plz lot Aawo ab (Papa! We miss you a lot. We cannot study without your support. Please return soon),” Shoaib said.