Shopian: It’s been a year since Shakir Wagey is believed to have been gunned down by militants and buried at an unidentified location but his father is holding on to the hope he will be able to find the grave of his son who worked with the Territorial Army.
The family observed the first death anniversary of Shakir earlier this month at their village near Reshipora, 15 km from the district town of Shopian in the volatile south Kashmir. Shakir was the sole breadwinner of the family.
“I have no one to take care of the family. At this age now I have to move to the fields in search of work to make ends meet,” says 56-year-old Manzoor Wagey.
Since August 2 when Shakir was abducted and believed to have been killed, the Wagey family has been hit by tragedies. After the untimely disappearance of Shakir, Manzoor’s elder son Muzzafar – a truck driver – met with an accident and suffered a permanent disability.
His another son, Shahnawaz, is studying in the second semester of Bachelor of Business Administrator.
A desperate Manzoor laments that the district administration and the police did not pay any heed to the family’s call for help for finding the body of Shakir who is believed to have been killed by militants on the day he went missing.
Shakir, posted with 162nd battalion of the Territorial Army which is attached with Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry of the Army, was on his way from home to the army camp at Beehi Bagh when terrorists abducted him from an apple orchard. Next day, his car was found burnt and later, his blood-soaked clothes were recovered.
“Initially, it was presumed that he may have joined the ranks of militants, but later Shakoor Parrey, an informer-turned-self-styled commander of the banned Al-Badar group, claimed responsibility for killing Shakir,” an army officer said.
During an anti-militancy operation in August last year, the 44 Rashtriya Rifles ensured the surrender of Al-Badar militant Shoaib, who told the investigators that Shakir was killed by Parrey and buried at an undisclosed location.
In the meantime, the army, which has dug up at least 27 places during the past year, has processed papers to declare Shakir as presumed dead to ensure that the Wagey family gets some relief, the officials said.
Legally, the papers could be processed only after seven years of disappearance but since the family is facing lot of financial problem this was done as a humane gesture, they added.
“I have also left no stone unturned to find out the whereabouts of my son. He is around my village. I will find him. I may not be financially sound today but whatever I earn, I spend on labourers and machines to dig up all possible places,” says Manzoor.
Consoling his friend and neighbour Manzoor, Javed said the family had to spend a huge amount in hiring JCB machines for digging up places that could have been a possible grave of Shakir.
“Some leads emerge even now but most of these are deliberately planted by miscreants to make fun of the family. Notwithstanding, there was some information where we could get the clothes and car of Shakir,” Javed said.
Shanawaz says his father “wakes up during the night crying for his son. After all, bhai (brother) was a hope of their old age. Now I am trying to live up to their expectations.”
The family has searched for the body in all adjacent villages, including Nihama where Shakir’s burnt car was found.
“Tangoori Nallah at Herman, which is a seasonal river, was searched with the help of villagers following a tip-off that my brother could have been buried at the river bed but with no success.
“We even checked the garbage dump outside many villages with the help of JCB. My father and the entire family have not lost hope that one day we will find his grave. We have faith in God,” 20-year-old Shahnawaz said.
At least three militants, arrested or surrendered, have told investigators that they had tortured Shakir and later on Parrey killed him and disposed of his body.
Several villagers visited the Wagey family to offer their prayers for Shakir and the army’s local commanding officer too reached there and assured the family of all kinds of assistance. PTI