21 years on, Sopore student’s family waits for his return

Muhammad Iqbal Shah of Wagura Sopore in Baramulla district was preparing for class 10th examination when he was picked up the Border Security Forces in 1995. More than two have decades have passed, but he never returned home.
21 years on, Sopore student’s family waits for his return
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Muhammad Iqbal Shah of Wagura Sopore in Baramulla district was preparing for class 10th examination when he was picked up the Border Security Forces in 1995. More than two have decades have passed, but he never returned home. 

The story of Iqbal's disappearance in BSF custody dates back to March 13 that year when he was engrossed in his studies. The personnel of BSF (from 163 battalion) entered his home at Wagura, Sopore and arrested him. His two friends were also arrested by the BSF a day before his arrest.

His friends were released, but there is no trace of Iqbal since. 

"They (BSF) tortured him severely," his relatives said, recalling the day they saw the 14-year-old boy. "We pleaded before the BSF personnel and asked them to set him go, but they didn't listen to us."

Next morning, when Iqbal's relatives and family approached the local BSF camp, they denied his arrest. The anxious relatives looked in every camp of the Force but the search didn't yield anything. 

The distraught family and relatives finally approached the higher-ups in police and administration. "The then SSP and deputy commissioner of Baramulla assured me that they will try to trace Iqbal," his relatives said. "We also approached Lt Gen M A Zaki. He was advisor to (J-K) Governor then. He too gave us assurance. But nothing came out."

The family and relatives didn't lose hope and filed a petition in the J-K High Court asking for its intervention to find the missing youth. The court appointed the district and sessions judge of Baramulla as the inquiry officer to probe the disappearance. "The probe confirmed the arrest of Iqbal by the BSF," said his relatives.

After the report was submitted in the High Court, it directed the police to register a case and start investigations into it. The court directions were followed and a four-member committee was formed by the district magistrate Baramulla after an FIR was registered in a police station. "The committee established that a Deputy Commandant and an Assistant Commandant of BSF's 163 battalion are involved in the disappearance of our son," his relatives, who wished not to be named, said.

The report of the committee reads: "We reached at the conclusion that Muhammad Iqbal Shah son of Muhammad Yusuf Shah of Wagura, who was a student of 10th class, is presumed to be killed and his body has been disposed of somewhere."

After the report, the relatives of Iqbal have one query: "If he (Iqbal) is dead, where is his grave and why his killers haven't been punished."

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