‘I will fight for my sister and wife until my last breath’
Shopian, May 29: His hairline has considerably receded, multiple wrinkles appeared on forehead and the crow’s feet tagged to his eyes accentuate under the pale light of a single light bulb in his room as he talks to his 11-year-old son.
Over the past nine years, time has brought many changes in the life and appearance of disarmingly simple Shakeel Ahmad Ahangher, but it has not changed his unflinching resolve to fight for justice to his sister Asiya and wife Nelofar ravished and murdered allegedly by government forces on this day nine years ago.
“I will not give in to any pressure. I will fight for justice for my sister and wife until my last breath” Ahanager said.
On May 29, 2009, Asiya, who was just 17 and Nelofar (22) had gone to their small orchard across the ankle deep Ranbir Ara stream in south Kashmir’s Shopian district. When they did not return home, the family sent out frantically searching the area before finally reporting to police.
The next morning, lifeless bodies of the sisters-in-law, their clothes tattered, were found on the banks of shallow Rambir Ara, not far from a government forces’ camp.
The family and locals alleged the duo had been raped and murdered by the government forces. The incident triggered widespread protests across Kashmir valley.
Kashmir convulsed with outrage and shut in protest for 16 days. Shopian town observed an unprecedented 47-day shutdown demanding justice for the young women.
Nine years later justice still appears elusive, and Ahngar has lost faith in the state institutions demanding justice from independent international forums.
“I have no faith in Indian institutions. Be it judiciary or any investigating agency they are all biased and subservient to the government,” Ahangar said.
“They do what the government of the day wants them to do.”
Ahangar blames the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti for having played politics on the issue. He said during the 2014 assembly elections she made “justice for Asiya and Nelofar” a main poll plank in the whole south Kashmir and promised she would bring the culprits to book if voted to power.
“She forgot everything as soon as she came to power. She has failed to redeem her election pledge,” said Ahangar.
“On every death anniversary of Asiya and Nelofar, she (Mufti) along with her party activists would throng the press enclave to demand justice for the victims. Where has she vanished now?” Ahangar asks.
His son Susan, now eleven was just two when the tragedy struck. Now he is fully aware about what had happened on that fateful day.
Sitting in the lap of his father, Susan stares on the ceiling as his father narrates the ordeal he goes through.
“Now, he knows everything about his mother, but he did not say anything. He talks very less and prefers to stay alone,” said Aghangir, adding that his teachers always complain Susan does not mingle with other kids in the school.
“It is not only the story of Susan, hundreds of such children are going through the same psychological trauma in valley,” Aghangar says, as he prepares for a sit-in protest on the ninth death anniversary of his wife and sister.