Fayaz Ahmad of Khurhama was perhaps the only person to return from the border of death. After years of his disappearance in the custody of the security agencies, his widowed mother was told to visit the police control room to get her son. It was May 6, 1993. Fayaz had to be rushed to hospital. He had no nails on any of his fingers or toes. Skin plucked at places, kidneys not working. I saw him at the hospital. He could not speak. A month later he did. He could identify from photographs a number of youths who were detained with him. He would talk of furnaces, electrical kettles and unimaginable things that were used to consume humans. Many years later, he too died a mysterious death.
In September 2003, soldiers of Rashtriya Rifles picked up Tahir Hussain, a few hours after he brought his bride home in Tujar, Sopore. Four days later his family was informed by a major that they should visit a nearby forest. The groom had been blasted to death and the family collected a few kilogrammes of his flesh and bones to bury. Any action? No idea.
In the last twenty years, Kashmir witnessed crimes that dehumanised a generation. For me it is impossible to forget a 1995 headline: ‘ The tiger was never so wild’. It told the story of Farooq Ahmad Wani who fled from RR custody and reached Islamabad. He told people that RR had detained four youths.
Ghulam Rasool and Muhammad Ramzan were killed within two days. Two others, Hilal Nasti of Islamabad and the narrator, Farooq, were driven out of the garrison. A soldier, he told people, butchered Hilal and cut his body into pieces — head sliced, limbs cut out. Farooq was then ordered to throw the body pieces into the Lidder river. He did and with the last part of Nasti’s body, jumped into the river. After his disclosure, the body parts were recovered, barring a leg and the arms. The case was taken up at different levels, nothing happened. Instead, Farooq died a mysterious death.