BUDGAM: Families of two youth, missing for a month from two villages of Budgam district have left no stone unturned to locate their wards.
Zia-ur-Rahman, 27, and Abrar Ahmad Bhat, 21, hail from Aarath and Narbal villages respectively, and left their homes on mornings of December 30 and 31.
Their distraught families, sinking into despair, have pleaded them to return home, even as they fear they may have joined militant ranks.
At the home of Zia, son of Shakeel-ur-Rahman at Aarath, no one has a clue of where he could have gone.
Shakeel, who works as block printer of Pashmina shawls, expressed his helplessness.
“Everyone in our family is dumbstruck since the day he has gone missing,” Shakeel said “To be honest it was unexpected and unforeseen”.
Zia, he said, had done his Masters in Sociology, completed B. Ed as well and was pursuing a paramedical course from TK College Lawaypora, where he had completed one year.
“He was a religious guy and had memorised 28 parts of Holy Quran. From last four years, his priorities and preferences had changed to a great extent and he was considered as a pivot of peace in this village,” Shakeel said with tears rolling down his cheeks.
“He had gained trust of people and lead prayers in a local mosque and Friday prayers at the Jamia for last few years”.
On 30th December, he said, Zia left home to submit college fee for the second year but did not return.
“This was probably the first day he stayed away from home without letting us know,” he said. “In late hours, we called him but he didn’t pick up the calls and switched off his phone after we continued to call him. I gave up and thought he may have stayed in hostel because their practical exams were going on.” However, he said, the very next morning, army men knocked at their asking for Zia whereabouts.”
“We went speechless, motionless. ‘He has gone to college and not returned yet’, I told them,” he said.
“But they informed me that he has gone missing,” he said. “Next day, we were called by the police station to file a missing report. We have personally searched for him in every corner of valley but in vain”.
“I appeal him to return. I appeal to those who know where he is to send him back. He is innocent. Come home, Zia-ur-Rahman, I am waiting for you,” Shakeel said with moist eyes.
The situation is no different at the home of Abrar, son of Mohammad Ramzan Bhat, who went missing on 31st December from his home at Kalli Mohalla Narbal.
“His longings will add to the miseries of his parents and siblings,” Arbar’s mother, Fatima said.
“Everyone is worried about him. His father who has disc problem has been stuck at home since that day. His longings have forced his brother to say god bye to his studies, to search for him by moving from one place to another. We want him to return, and bring life back to where it was,” she said.
Abrar, a school dropout turned shopkeeper, is one of six siblings. His father Mohammad Ramzan Bhat works as an officer in Education department.
Ramzan said, that Abrar was detained by Magam police for 15 days in 2014, “If I remember exactly”, in a case related to “burning of religious places”.
“During 2016, according to police, he had played a vital role in provoking the stone pelters to rise against the state and was detained again for 20 days and was released after we bailed him out. In 2017 he was arrested by the police and sent to SOG camp Budgam,” he said. “He was again released after twenty days”.
In 2017 the family said, “on police recommendation” to engage him in some work, they spent lakhs of rupees to buy a shop in Narbal and establish a business unit for him.
“But he could not protect himself from the forces’ watch,” Fatima said. “For last two years he was running this ready-made garments shop and was earning his livelihood but he was asked to report to police station often, like on 26 Jan or 15 August,” she added.
“And then came the fateful day. He went to purchase the garments for his shop and took along Rs 25,000 cash in hand, and never returned.”
“We have approached local police to help us to locate him and have filed a missing report there as well. For now we have not been able to trace him, neither have got any leads about his whereabouts,” she added.
“Your family needs you Abrar. Please come back,” she said.
The family members joined in the plea, “We plead him to return to home as soon as possible. We can’t live without him. We appeal to those who know about him to send him back.”
Senior Superintendent of Police Budgam, Amod Kumar Nagpure told Kashmir Reader that it would be too early to say if they have joined militant ranks.
“A case has been registered and investigation has been taken up but there is no picture on social media, there are no other leads as well, so it would be premature to say they have joined militancy,” he added.