The death of Traitors
And their bodies arrived. uncovered, unwanted and unwelcomed. Every person, yes almost every person was peeping from anywhere he could- broken window glasses, balconies and wall cracks. we also climbed upstairs to have a glimpse when someone informed us about their arrival. They were in a truck that had stopped outside our house.
On a tin sheet, two of them with an unclean piece of cloth covering their faces. I remember the clothes they were wearing- Shabir( a brown color khandress and grey pheran) and bashir( blue trousers and black sweater with two white strips in the chest)
Minutes passed, then an hour but nobody came out of his house to shoulder their bodies to their respective homes. Their family too remained indoors perhaps crying but without making any sound.
Our house rested in the middle. On the right hand side it shared a single wall with Shabir’s house. On the back side, three houses away was situated Bashir’s three storied concrete house.
Then a middle aged man and the mohalla president accompanied by my grandfather- then the eldest man in our locality came out. My grand father stood near the truck while the mohalla president with the help of driver took out the first body. It was of Bashir’s. They dropped it in the courtyard of his house but when none of his family members came out they took it inside and came out with the tin sheet and cloth to carry another body home.
We had already gone downstairs to hear the reactions of another family through our common wall. Shabir was taken directly to the room where his old parents, wife and two children were waiting, “i swear upon you. I pleaded them for forgiveness but they didn't listen to me,” we heard his wife saying to the dead.
His wife was my mothers friend and so my mother was feeling bad about her. But there was no question of visiting their place though we kept listening to the family for many hours behind the wall.
It was around 4pm when Shabir’s body was taken out to graveyard. Only four or five were carrying the coffin. No one was walking behind. My mother kept praying to God that He should protect everyone from such undignified death when she didn't see a single man walking behind his coffin. “this is nothing. The real drama he will see there only. Go to hell you bloody renegade,” my brother said and was silenced by mother.
It was during those days only when i heard the name “mukhbir” (renegade) for the first time. And by this episode now, it was clear that he is someone who betrays people and kills his family members. Yes! One of them had approved his own sons death.
It was 9 November 1992 and i was in Ist standard. A crack down announcement those days and that too in a down town area was nothing new. So everybody uncertain of any gory incident left their home and assembled on the nearby bridge after hearing the crack down annoncement in our local mosque. Those days the militant organisation that was much operational in our locality was Ikhwaanul Muslimeen. Few of my immediate relatives were active members of the outfit. The first thing that everyone would enquire after the announcement of Crackdown was their safety and whereabouts. They had already run to some safer place so every body almost sure of any untoward incident went out for the crackdown.
By afternoon, the crackdown was over and when the male members of our family came back they informed that four young boys of our locality have been picked up and taken to some place in military vehicle. Amir, Asif, Bilal, javed,- all in their late teens.
My uncle says he was behind Asif in the queue when they were being paraded before masked men. he said that Asif was shivering with cold and he offered him his Pheran (cloak) before the masked man nodded his head and he was bundled in a vehicle. And then three more. All the four friends-one by one.
As everybody was saying, the four boys were not militants but would be just seen around them waiting when their heroes who are going to set their nation free order any work and they will feel happy to have taken little part in freedom struggle, “they were the ones who could give them some clues about our whereabouts. They would always roam around us, asking if they can buy anything for us from market. We never hesitated to discuss things before them,” My relative militant said.
By the time- All the four families had come out on their main doors with the mothers of four boys being consoled by neighbourhood women. Amir had left his house in anger. His mother- a cardiac patient was crying and asking for forgiveness to her only son. Asif was the eldest of his siblings and the darling of his mother and grand mother. They were inconsolable. Another boy bilal was also eldest son of the family that would feed on the meager income of his father the would generate from selling kashmiri caps in lal chowk.
Javed was fond of pigeon flying and his mother would give him its reference in her wails, “come back. Lets fight over your pigeons. so you wont leave this dirty hobby even. ok dont.”
Given their innocence everyone was sure that it cannot be them when some gun shots were heard somewhere in vicinity. But then in late afternoon all of a sudden a police vehicle came and dropped four dead bodies in our mohalla. A queue of four shrouded friends entered. It was chaos. Women were wailing yet singing to them. They were showering flowers, almost and candies on the dead. For a child like me it was not less than a puzzle.
For weeks together people were talking about them. by now i too was knowing them, of course by their funerals only. After some days, Amir’s family left that house seeing the deteriorating condition of his mother.
Then it was one day after almost a month of these 4 killings, i was at my neighbors house and Shabir entered. Shabir was a middle aged man and a government employee. He was alone, shivering and had turned pale. The neighbors offered him water and he said, “i am going to die. They have come to know that i was involved in those deaths. Trust me i was forced in it but they will not spare me now. Forgive me and ask them for forgiveness if possible,” Shabir said and left towards the vehicle he was asked to get in within some minutes. Nobody followed him to the vehicle.
I came back to tell the story as a child to my family. But they were already knowing. They were talking about one more person- Bashir.
Bashir and shabir were the two men that had identified the four boys during the parade of the crackdown. Bashir was also the father of Asif- one of the four boys that were killed.
It was those militants belonging to ikhwanul muslimeen outfit that had been searching for the informers since the day as they believed the men belonged to our own locality. They were successful in identifying them. After their identification, the militants took them to some unknown destination and recorded their confessions.
The confession tapes were distributed in the locality. Bashir had confessed that though it were they who identified the boys but he had been assured that the boys would be left free after some questioning and they can provide some clue about the hiding militants also.
But it didn't happen. When the boys were taken to some interrogation center they failed to provide any clue to them instead what happened was that the boys somehow came to know about Shabir and Bashir being involved with soldiers.
“they army officer told me that the boys came to know about us. I said kill them. they said they have killed the other three and left my son free. since i was not the only one but Shabir was also with me so i told them. no dont let him free. Kill him too,” is what Bashir was heard to have said in his recorded confession.
while the other three boys were fired in their chests and Asif was asked to go. he was fired in his head from behind. His family wasnt allowed to have his last glimpse, fearing they wouldnt bear his mutilated face.
When they duo themselves confessed before community people and confession tapes were listened by almost every family, the mourning of the four boys started anew.
Shabir’s father was the oldest muezzin of our local mosque. My father says it is he who would give Azan in his childhood too. The other day when he was heard giving Azan, bilal’s father entered the mosque, held him by his collar and asked him to stop Azan in the middle. He told them a renegade's father has no right to occupy such sacred position. The whole mohalla was listening through loud speakers.Everybody kept mum. That was the last time Shabir’s father entered into the mosque. He died almost after a decade later.
But the situation at the Bashir’s house was even pathetic. Asif's mother who till yesterday was cursing her sons killer, the killer came out to be none other than her own husband.
Bashir’s daughter was my aunts friend. “she said she is waiting for the body of his father to arrive so that she can once again mourn the death of his unfortunate brother who was killed by his own father,” she had told it to my aunt when she went to meet her after his father’s kidnapping.
Bashir’s wife had requested the militants not to bring the body of her husband home after they kill him. Shabir’s wife had met some community heads and asked for forgiveness, “i informed them that his family is asking for forgiveness. But then they asked me if they deserve to be left free after they killed four innocent boys. I didn't say anything but told them to take a unanimous decision,” says then Mohalla president and now a elderly man.
And then It was unanimous decision of all. After fifteen days of questioning and interrogation, they were killed and their bodies brought in truck on that sunny winter morning.
As the Shabir’s funeral didn't have any mourners behind. Bashir’s graveyard came out to be occupied by soldiers. The few men who took his body to graveyard had tough time to get some space in now the courtyard of military camp. Everybody was saying that it was Allah’s wish to lay him among the people whom he had sold himself.
(names of people have been changed)