SRINAGAR: He left home a month ago to join insurgents, escaping from alleged police harassment. But the death of 24-year-old Younis Ganai has come as a kind of “relief” to his father.
“He died to help his family live in peace,” says Maqbool Ganai after hearing that the Kashmiri militant was killed in a weekend gun battle. Younis and his companion, both Hizbul Mujahideen militants, were killed in a shootout in a central Kashmir village, a few kilometres away from his home in Budgam.
The relief that the father feels is no ordinary one. He feels that all the “harassment, torture and humiliation” for the last several years would now end.
“I once went to police to enquire about my son. They locked me up for 13 days,” Maqbool said, talking on the phone to IANS from Srinagar.
“When I heard about his killing I told my wife that all the harassment was over now. Whatever my son did was for us to live in peace,” he said.
As the news of his death spread, hundreds of mourners gathered outside the militant’s home to attend his funeral on Sunday before the body was buried.
Maqbool said he was “of course battling an unendurable pain of losing” the eldest of his three sons who helped him run a small convenience store in the village.
The father said his son was “forced to become a militant” after being “harassed and tortured continously” by the police since 2013 — when he was seen participating in a protest demonstration.
Younis was arrested that year and what followed was a series of raids and harassment, his father said.
The police booked his son in what he contended was a false case of acquiring arms, which resulted in his frequent arrests and raids by the police and the army at his home.
He alleged that some police officials demanded Rs 50,000 for closing the case against his son.
“I was ready to pay. But Younis refused, saying when he had not done anything wrong why should we pay. He kept saying he was not involved in any militant activity. I had to listen to him,” Maqbool said.
As the raids continued, his son slipped into depression. The forces even harassed the family.
“Once they even arrested my wife and harassed all other family members. All they wanted us to say was that our son was engaged in militant activities. But he wasn’t.”
He said his son would have never taken up arms had the forces not harassed the family. “One night during last winter, they kept all of us — including my daughter — out in the snow for hours. Younis could not see his sister and mother begging in front of the security forces,” Maqbool said.
Maqbool recalled the day when he saw his son alive for the last time — on March 13th this year.
“He said he was going to meet a friend. He never returned. We filed a missing report with police. It was after two weeks the forces raided us again and informed us that our son had now joined miliants with the Hizbul Mujahideen,” the father said.
He said it was the behaviour of the forces in Kashmir that was pushing the young to take up arms.