Srinagar, Sep 30: Apart from 474 questions listed in the Legislative Assembly, there’s one question that should be asked in the ongoing assembly session: where is Mukhtar Ahmad Naqashbandi? Today, exactly twelve years ago, Mukhtar, a19-year-old BSc first year student from Laloo, Hyderpora, disappeared near the assembly complex on October 1, 2001, when a powerful explosion outside the entrance of state assembly left 29 persons dead.
Mukhtar had left home for Amar Singh College that day along with his friend Naseer Ahmad Thokar. They had gone to their college to check the date-sheet for his first year practical exams that were scheduled to start soon. They did not return home in the evening that day. For the past 12 years now these two youth remain untraced.
Three months after his disappearance, a relative of the family who worked in police turned up with the identity card of Mukhtar. He told the family that the card was found by the driver of a police vehicle who picked it up while cleaning the police Gypsy. The scanned I-card remains the only belonging of Mukhtar that was returned to the family. In the days following the explosion that killed many people near the assembly complex that day, his brothers tried to look for his clothes and a watch he was wearing that day around the vicinity of the complex. After the blast his brothers went to the Police Control Room to identify him among the dead. But there was no clue of him.
On July 3, 2007, in a written reply to the complaint filed by Mukhtar’s father, Saifuddin Naqashbandi, the sub-division police officer of Shaheedgunj recorded the statement of the driver who had picked up the identity card from the police Gypsy in January, 2002.
Muhammad Ishaq said that he was posted with IPS Anand Jain ASP the then undergoing practical course at DPO for three days with BP Gypsy bearing (No.JK02F8674) from DPL Srinagar in January 2002. “I traced the said I/Card while cleaning the Gypsy and later on handed over the card to Mushtaq Ahmad Naqashbandi in presence of driver Muhammad Yaqoob 36/PCR within the premises of ZPHQ.”
The police report further rules out any likelihood of Mukhtar being among the dead or injured in the aftermath of the blast near the Assembly Complex. “On the same day an incident took place regarding bomb explosion in which several persons were either killed or injured at assembly complex. But the disappeared person was not identified from the bodies so recovered or from injured persons,” the police report states.
“This means he was alive after the blast and he was being carried around in the police vehicle in which his I card was found three months after his disappearance,” says Bashir Ahmad Naqashbandi, the elder brother of Mukhtar who works as a clerk in UEED (Urban Environmental Engineering Department).
Among four brothers, our younger brother Mukhtar was the brightest, says Bashir. He excelled in his studies and extracurricular activities. “He was also preparing for his medical entrance test that year when he disappeared,” says Bashir. “We had great hopes from him as he was very talented.”
Mukhtar’s mother is unable to come to terms with the disappearance of her son. At times she prepares food for him, hoping he’ll return home in the evening. His family members desperately hope he’s alive and returns home one day. Mukhtar’s grandfather, Ghulam Nabi Naqashbandi, who was particularly attached to him, passed away in 2012. “He even lost his eyesight. He was very close to him,” says Bashir.
Mukhtar’s father suffered a minor heart attack in 2007. This year he again survived a major heart attack that nearly killed him. “Our parents have remained unwell since his disappearance,” says Bashir.
Interestingly, Mukhtar’s father retired a few years back from CIK (Counter Intelligence Kashmir) where he was working as an ASI. “Tanveer Jeelani, who was then SDPO Shaheedgung, had asked my father to bring him the man who gave us the I-card and in return he said he will find Mukhtar in two days,” says Bashir. “But how could we tell him about that man who was helpful to us and gave us the I-card. They could have harmed him,” he says.
Since 2007 there has been no progress in the case. The family says the government and police authorities should know about his whereabouts. They want the question of his disappearance to be raised in the ongoing assembly session. “All they tell us is that there is no trace of him,” says Bashir. “We should at least be told if he is dead or alive.”
“We want to know his whereabouts,” says Bashir as his eyes brim with tears. “We are not looking for any compensation. We want him back.”
“And if he is dead,” Bashir adds as an afterthought, “at least tell us where his grave is.”

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