Aah ko chahiye ik Omar…
THE KILLING OF OMAR QAYOOM THE 64TH VICTIM OF GOVERNMENT VIOLENCE SINCE JUNE 11, HAS A FEW SPECIAL MESSAGES FOR CHIEF MINISTER OMAR ABDULLAH, WRITES MEHBOOB IQBAL
EACH one of the sixty four victims of government violence since June 11 had a message to deliver to a deaf and dumb world around them. A message written in blood and delivered through mountains of newsprint and round the clock news shows, computers and networks. A message straight to the conscience. An SOS forjustice, attention and a right to a decent liberated life. But one boy named Omar Qayoom left behind not just his devastated parents and three sisters behind but multiple messages to his namesake chief minister Omar Abdullah. Not the least because he was the sixty fourth. The killing of Omar Qayoom took place in Soura a non-descript village steeped in poverty and ignorance before it was made famous by Omar Abdullah’s grand father who was ultimately to bequeath the throne to his descendants. It was here in this locality that young Sheikh Abdullah, then a simple Muhammad Abdullah had slapped a uniformed functionary of an autocratic system. That slap caused a thunder far and wide for it was an act of defiance that was to script the history of Kashmir and leave indelible marks on entire South Asian region. A slap that founded a dynasty of elected rulers and an act that also began a new unending chapter of misery for the very people who were overawed by it and who followed the hero of that day without a murmur. As Muhammad Abdullah grew into Sher-e-Kashmir his unquestioning and unsuspecting believers zaroored him from one decision to another, one blunder to another. His magic ensured a god’s status to him literally right up to his grave.
Muhammad Abdullah of Soura, whatever his daring and whatever his sacrifices however owed a great deal to the very system that he ultimately over threw. He owed the “Dogra Shahi” as he called it, an absolute and cruel dictatorship as he condemned it, the right to life which Maharaja Hari Singh mercifully granted him. Who would have ever heard of Sher e Kashmir if the daroga of Maharaja’s capital had meted out the same treatment to baaghi Abdullah as Omar Abdullah’s police did to Omar Qayoom? Omar Abdullah in the current cacophony of statements once graciously said, not long ago to Barhka Dutt, if the policeman shoots some one down on the street, the shoulder is mine. Omar Qayoom did not die of a bullet, for a change. He had, according to doctors a “history of beating”. Those who know claimed the 17 year old had a ruptured lung which cost him his budding life. One can only shudder at the kind of torture the boy must have gone through in police custody. Was it trampling under the heavy boots as in case of Waseem another child killed in Batmaloo or straight drilling of a baton inside his mouth as reported elsewhere? One is not sure but Omar Abdullah can certainly not take refuge under the argument that his shoulder was not used in this case. If it was the boot it was his, if it was the cane it was his.
It was almost natural that the irate and highly provoked mob would target Sheikh Abdullah’s house in the locality of his birth. That house is an icon--of hate now but was of reverence only few decades back. It was the one Abdullah property financed by the poor of the valley through sincere donations of their miserable savings. A rupee or two, silver from the thatched homes and gold from the dewankhanas. It was a monument of love and a tribute to Sheikh Abdullah’s daring in the early decades of twentieth century. It also proved to be the Taj Mahal of Kashmir’s most celebrated love story and destroyed by the disillusioned lovers themselves. Sheikh Abdullah started it himself with his flight to posh uptown areas and a more lavish lifestyle and the rest through a better understanding of what had struck them as a result of their blind love.
As if on a cue the political opponents of the chief minister chose the same black Wednesday to rake up another house, they called Abdullah Mahal at Gupkar. Around the time Abdullah House in Soura was being attacked by the grand children of Sheikh’s devotees a lesser known legislator Nizamuddin from Ahad Jan’s area was fielded to do an encore of the shoe pelting of a more serious kind. One really is wonderstruck by the strange methods of history. How resoundingly can it deliver messages if there is an eye to discern, in the words of Qur’an, “Fa’atabiroo ya ulilabsaar”. Omar Qayoom’s death at the hands of police of Omar Abdullah acted as the messenger. Is someone listening at the foot of Sulaiman Teng? Would a Muhammad Yousuf Teng muster up the courage to decode it for his god of small things?
On August 2 when the chief minister succeeded in getting reinforcements for his beleaguered government he made announcement to that effect at a press conference in the national capital. In reply to a question he expressed relief at the fact that the “casualties were still not many”, not many really if the toll of Amarnath Ragda was a bench mark. He must have felt comfortable with the feeling that the number 64 was too far away yet and by the time it is crossed many would have forgotten about his comment. But his forces had to work overtime in achieving the unfortunate statistic in the same month as if to deny the chief minister this last comfort that he was still to better the performance of his predecessors. And they could not have done it in a more telling manner if one considers the ironies involved. Omar Qayoom of Soura, the namesake of Omar Abdullah the chief minister was not killed in random shooting. He was picked up and tortured to death as if for the sin of his name and the crime of his belonging to Sheikh Abdullah’s Soura.
A day after the attack on Abdullah House at Soura the current patriarch of the clan made a trademark speech in the Lok Sabha. He expressed his strong disapproval of the inability or reluctance of the government of India to get back the part of Jammu and Kashmir that is with Pakistan. Obviously the aging Farooq still harbours the fantasy of expanding his family empire. Only that he doesn’t realize the significance of losing Soura. Mirza Ghalib has created verses for almost all occasions. The one that Farooq could recite using his considerable singing talent is Aah ko chahiye ik umr asar honey tak…
But it could be the favourite of the 64 mourning mothers as well with the slight phonetic variation Aah ko chahiye ik Omar…As it is joined by millions of sighs from the street, the farms, the mosques, prisons, police stations and hospital beds to constitute a gale of sighs Omar Qayoom the seventeen year old from Soura with ruptured lungs and trauma of torture might be pleading before Allah…How long my Lord?
Lastupdate on : Mon, 30 Aug 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 30 Aug 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 31 Aug 2010 00:00:00 IST
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