Trehgam: Ali Muhammad Sheikh also disappeared on November 17. His family also says that he was last seen with the TA soldier Manzoor Khawaja. By and large, his life has followed a trajectory somewhat similar to that of the Dardpora duo: he had given up militancy in the 90s, had been in touch with army since, was accused of facilitating a militant suicide attack in Srinagar and back to working with army again.
Sheikh’s single-storey house shares the boundary with the army’s brigade headquarters in Trehgam town. Many neighbours trooped the room where this reporter was talking to his family, listening intently to every word.
“He went to meet Manzoor but didn’t return in the evening. At first we presumed that he might have gone to meet someone in connection with Hyderpora (suicide attack) case. That is why we didn’t file missing report till November 29,” said Sheikh’s wife Hasina.
Sheikh, 35, was a co-accused in Hyderpora attack, in which eight soldiers were gunned down by two militants on June 24, 2013 on Srinagar Bye Pass road. He was acquitted of charges this April.
“He is our only source of income. We don’t own any land. I have three children. Where would I go? How would I make both ends meet?” Hasina said.
Sheikh’s association with army, however, makes him a suspect in the eyes of many people in his locality.
“He was a former militant. His children are studying in the army school,” a local resident told Kashmir Reader on condition of anonymity.
“It is possible that given his militant past he would have been pressurized into working as an informer by the army and sent across for spying as many porters have been sent in the past,” he said.