Srinagar, Dec 9: Suddenly her wrinkled face turned pale. All hopes of tracing out her missing son faded the moment she entered the office of the police officer who had called her on that fateful morning. She could not believe her ears. She requested the officer to repeat what was conveyed to her a short while ago. "Yes, your son died during torture. He was involved in the elimination of a senior army officer," the officer said harshly.
Walking out of the officer's chamber was as difficult for her as hearing the news of her beloved son's death. Without crying, she looked around with her moist eyes to find her son's hand. He was nowhere. A harsh reality dawned on her. She screamed as her trembling legs gave way.
The woman was taken home by an acquaintance where she lives to this day. Unfortunately the only photo of her missing son, Muhammad Ashraf Lone was taken by a human rights activist who misplaced it. But Aisha is not worried. "Do I need his photograph? He lives in my heart all the time. People say he is dead but being his mother, I feel his presence around me all the time. When tears trickle down my eyes, he comes, pats my shoulder and consoles me. I am looking forward to meet my son on the day of resurrection. Nobody can separate us then."
Renowned rights activist, Pervez Imroz while commenting on Aisha's statement said, "The old woman is waiting for her death which, according to her is the only door that would take her to her missing son. How ironical! But this is how life moves in this beautiful prison."
Aisha narrates Ashraf's tragic story calmly. "My son was abducted by Ikhwanies (renegades) on May 29, 2001 from his shop. Later he was handed over to soldiers stationed at Krusan (Lolab, Kupwara) camp. He never returned."
The old woman sighed and could not utter a word for some time. She did not allow her tears to strangulate her voice. "The villagers identified the renegades as Akbar Beig, Nazir Bhat and Reyaz Lone. The trio stormed my son's shop on May 29,2001 and took him to some unknown destination. Later we learnt about his hand over to the soldiers. However, a senior officer at the camp told me he had no information about Ashraf. I called on the concerned Superintendent of Police (SP) who told me to come after three days. After three days when I went to meet him, he shocked me by saying my son was involved in the murder of an army officer. He also told me my son had succumbed to torture in the camp."
The police arrested Akbar and Nazir in connection with FIR No 42/2001 for abducting Ashraf. Reyaz escaped arrest and the police launched a massive manhunt for him. The aged woman is not aware of the progress of police investigation.
Aisha also knocked at the doors of the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) but the "toothless tiger" could not bring the much needed solace to her. Finally she was advised to seek judicial recourse. But will it serve any purpose?