Srinagar, Oct 9: At a time when people are preparing for Eid, the aged parents of a fake encounter victim who was their lone breadwinner are battling for survival. With monetary relief as promised by the government still denied to them, the couple has been left to fend for themselves. They, however, have not lost their resolve to see the killers of their son punished.
Noor Alam Kataria,70, and his wife Noora were making arrangements at their house in Banihal in Doda district for marriage of their young son Showkat Ahmad Kataria, an imam at a mosque in Alamgari Bazaar in Shehre-Khas here when he went missing on October 5 last year. Little did they know that on the same evening their beloved had been killed by Army's 13 Rashtriya Rifles and Special Operations Group (SOG) Ganderbal at Baazipora Ajas.
The couple sold their property to locate his whereabouts. And when his body was exhumed earlier this year, their bad days started. When Kataria's two sons who were earning hands, started to live separately after a post marriage scuffle, it became difficult for him, his wife and the two sons to even get two square meals.
"As other children would play in their spare time, Showkat used to recite Qur'an and try to memorize it. After the family breakdown, I worked overtime doing hard labour to support Showkat's education. He didn't let me down and after receiving education from top Islamic seminaries in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, he became a qualified Moulvi, and lone breadwinner for us. He would visit home on every Eid," Kataria recalled with moist eyes.
With the passage of time, happiness returned to Kataria's family. However, it turned into sorrow when people of Alamgari Bazaar here informed him that his son was missing from the mosque there.
"We were making preparations for Showkat's marriage when news about his disappearance came. I rushed to Srinagar and searched for Showkat's whereabouts at all the security camps, police stations and interrogation centres but in vain. I spent over one lakh rupees, which I had kept for Showkat's marriage for locating his whereabouts, but couldn't."
During investigation into the fake encounter killing of the carpenter Abdur Rehman Padder of Larnu Kokernag, police contacted Kataria. "Police asked me to identify photograph of a youth who they said was killed in a fake encounter at Ajas. Mustering courage, I looked at the photograph, it was my Showkat…," he said and broke down.
In the FIR, the RR unit and SOG had labeled Moulvi Showkat as Abu Zahid of Karachi Pakistan. However, after identification of his body and subsequent DNA test confirmed that he was a civilian.
Kataria had to perform a painful job of identifying a body believed to be of Showkat from a graveyard at Ajas in Bandipora. "I pray to Almighty that not to let any father go through the hell I went through. It was unbearable for me to see his skull collapsed, feet swollen, and skin scrapped. They had emptied magazines on my son's chest. I appeal to lawyers to recommend death in a similar way to my son's killers so that nobody dares to snatch son from a father."
"Now, we are literally on road. My wife has lost her eyesight due to constant weeping in Showkat's memory. I too have diminishing eyesight and before I lose it, I want to see the killers punished. I have faith in Almighty and then judiciary that I will one day get justice," Kataria said as disappeared in the hustle and bustle of Eid.