A father torn between A DREAM and a real-life NIGHTMARE

Seventeen-year-old Tufail Ashraf Mattoo was killed by police on 11 June 2010 in what his father Mohammad Ashraf Mattoo calls a cold-blooded murder. That year another 120 youths were done to death in ring by state personnel. Ashraf Mattoo remembers his son on his death anniversary and why he can’t forgive the killer. He spoke to Aasif Sultan about his angst that refuses to end

My son is buried at two places. When police shot a tear-gas canister at him hitting his head, a part of his brain spilled on the ground. He died almost instantaneously. Locals took it and buried it at a graveyard near Gani Memorial ground, Rajouri Kadal, the place where my son was murdered.

Later on, his body was carried by thousands of Kashmiris to Eidgah martyrs’ graveyard. He rests in peace there.

And while Tufail rests in peace, I have lost my peace forever.

Tufail’s death smashed all our dreams. But there was one dream that came true, in a wrong way though.

Some thirty years ago, I saw a dream. I saw Sheikh Abdullah sitting on one of the windows of Hazratbal shrine. I used to despise him a lot and took it as a bad omen.

In that dream Sheikh offered me some shirini (sugar pellets). I refused to take it. Then he opened a safe, took out a piece of paper and handed it over to me. I accepted it and left.

Back then I never gave a thought to what the dream symbolised. Little did I know that this dream is going to come true after thirty years and haunt me for the rest of my life.

When my only child was killed in a cold-blooded murder on 11 June 2010, the officials of the puppet government of Delhi offered me compensation. How could they think it will compensate for the life of my son?

I rejected this compensation. That was the completion of the first part of my dream: Sheikh offering me shirini. Even the Waqf board offered me some amount as compensation for Tufail’s death. As they offer shirini to devotees at shrines, same way they offer compensation to the families of those whom the govt murders.

The second part of the dream came true soon after Tufail’s death when the rulers of that time refused to lodge even an FIR in an obvious case of murder. It was only after Chief Judicial Magistrate’s intervention that the FIR was lodged.

That was the second part of my dream coming true – the Sheikh’s grandson gave me that paper which I readily accepted and am keeping with me since these six years.

I have a voluminous file of papers pertaining to Tufail’s murder case. Whenever I have to attend court I carry it along.

I am not fighting for Tufail’s case only; rather I am fighting for all those 120 Kashmiris who fell to the bullets of the government forces that year.

Initially, I was ready to forgive the policeman who shot dead my son. Had the government been sincere in accepting the crime and atrocities it commits, I would have surely forgiven it. But, not now.

Omar Abdullah, then Chief Minister, is not t to be called a human being. He has no right to speak about Kashmiris. There is enough ground to prosecute him in any court of justice for these killings.

Imagine, he sought apology from the nation for the BOPEE scandal, but won’t apologize for the killings of innocent children. Are there words to describe such a person?

When the Prime Minister of India can be made to appear before court, why not the CM?

In fact, I want the international community to step in to prose- cute him. When Slobodan Milošević (former President of Serbia) can be convicted as war criminal by Inter- national Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia why not Omar Ab- dullah?

When the government can crack Maulana Showkat’s murder case within days, why has it ‘failed’ to book the culprits involved in 2010 killings?

Nevertheless, I firmly believe in democracy. Hope is my first and last resort. Even if justice is denied in this life, we have faith that the scores will be settled in the next-life.

I believe that dark times are ahead if justice is denied to the victims.

India has launched a full-blooded war on Kashmiris, crushing the resistance movement with brute force. But they fail to understand that soon- er or later this brute force will be- come redundant before the popular will of Kashmiris. History bears wit- ness how great and powerful empires have fallen apart like a pack of cards.

All I lament is that we, as a nation, have failed to set up institutions for providing support to our resistance movement at various levels.

May the soul of Tufail rest in peace. And all other martyrs’ too. Ameen!

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