Sajad Ahmad Gilkar, 25, left his studies mid-way some eight years ago when his father underwent a complicated head surgery.
A resident of Nowhatta in Downtown Srinagar, he was known by his nickname Bila due to his dazzling eyes.
“We had a lot of family issues and had to spend a lot of money on our father’s head surgery. We couldn’t even construct a new house and instead continued to stay at our ancestral house in Nowhatta,” said Sajad’s brother, Murtaza Nazir.
Murtaza said his brother was often “irritated” by police. “Ever since 2008 uprising started in Kashmir, police began raiding our house. I remember our house has been raided more than 200 times during the past eight years,” he said.
Sajad was working in a private company some years back but couldn’t continue as police arrested him and booked him under Public Safety Act.
“After his release from jail, he started selling clothes on a roadside outside Jamia Masjid Nowhatta. But police made his life a hell by continuously looking for him,” Murtaza said. “Sajad was booked under PSA thrice since 2008 and has more than 12 FIRs lodged against him in police stations Nowhatta, Safa Kadal and Mahraj Gunj.”
Sajad, according to his family, would take part in street protests and freedom rallies. “He was punished to the ultimate level for this,” said his cousin.
Murtaza said Sajad’s father was also called to police stations and even “caught by his beard” for not producing his son.
“Even I went to police station instead of my brother. I can tell you with full authority that my brother was subjected to mental torture,” he said.
After Deputy Superintendent of Police (DySP) Muhammad Ayub Pandit was beaten to death outside Jamia Masjid last month, Sajad was whisked away by police but released later.
“On fourth Eid-ul-Fitr (June 29), Sajad left his home to attend a court hearing at lower court Bemina and didn’t return home,” his family members said.
“My mother even sold her earrings to pay lawyer’s fee just to see her son free from tensions,” Murtaza said. “When he didn’t return home till evening, we were worried and approached police station Nowhatta with a missing report. Police too started looking for him.”
When government forces laid a siege at Redbugh village in Budgam district on Tuesday evening, Sajad rang up his father and said: “Asalamualaikum, I am Sajad, I am caught in cordon at Budgam, please forgive me, I may die soon.”
Murtaza said he was there when his brother called. “All of us were shocked to know that he had become a militant. We had never thought he would join militancy.”
Sajad’s mother is in a double shock: losing a son and not being present in the house when he had called his father.
“Oh! my son, why didn’t you speak to me last time,” she was seen screaming among other women mourners.
A pall of gloom descended on Churpura (Sadpora) village near Narbal as the body of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen militant Sheikh Tafazul Islam alias Javaid Sheikh reached there on Wednesday morning.
Tafazul was killed along with his two associates at Redbugh village in Budgam district in a night-long gunfight with government forces.
His village erupted in protests as he was laid to rest amid freedom slogans at his ancestral graveyard.
Tafazul went missing in March this year and his family lodged a missing report with police, but soon realised that their son had joined the militant ranks.
“He was detained in 2010 on charges of having militant links but was released soon. For a long time he was regularly summoned to various police stations and army camps,” said his family members.
Life took a major turn for Tafazul when his parents got him married. Today his five-year-old daughter is too young to realise the loss she has suffered.
“After Burhan Wani’s killing last year, Tafazul was again summoned and harassed which became a reason for him to leave his home and join militant ranks,” his family members said.
Before joining Hizbul Mujahideen, Tafazul was also working as a daily-wage worker and even pursuing his graduation, a family member said.
Tafazul’s funeral prayers were offered at Arth Cricket ground in Narbal where around 10,000 people participated. At least five to six rounds of funeral prayers were held at his ancestral village.
Meanwhile, Magam, Aripanthan, Narbal and Beerwah areas of the district observed a complete shutdown to mourn the militant killings.