By Khaksar Naqeeb Adnan
On the fateful day of 1 April 2018, at least 13 pro-independence armed fighters were gunned down by Indian security forces in three separate encounters. The fact is that all these fighters leave their comfort zones just for the sake of liberation and freedom from the ongoing injustice, oppression, suppression, and tyranny committed by the Indian state in Kashmir.
When I woke up this Sunday (1 April), as usual I checked Facebook. While hovering up and down on the newsfeed, all I saw was my newsfeed flooded with news related to three encounters that were going in two south Kashmir districts: Shopian and Anantnag.
Barely after ten minutes, I came to know about the names of seven slain fighters. The first one whose name I read was Zubair Ahmad Turray. I was shocked. A chill run down my spine.
He was the same person whom I had met in Srinagar’s Central Jail, while I had gone to meet my uncle, Bilal Siddiqui, who was jailed and shifted to the Central Jail during the 2016 uprising.
While I was reading his name, all the memories we shared together began to rewind. I still remember when I went to the Central Jail with my cousin, we were asked to wait. After 10 minutes I met my uncle and we were normally talking to each other.
Meanwhile, a young boy with a long beard and trimmed hair appeared in front of us supposedly to serve as tea. In the meantime, my uncle told me “Adnan, do you know him? ” I replied, “No”. Then my uncle said, “He is Zubair Ahmad Turray, one of the leading resistance activists from Shopian,”.
We offered usual greetings to each other and then I insisted him to talk with me but he excused as he was going to offer Zuhr prayers. He left and after offering prayers, he came back and we started talking to each other. Firstly, we introduced ourselves to each other and then he started telling me about himself.
He was a very humble guy and listened to me very patiently. After asking him why he was jailed, he replied that he was booked on the charges of stone pelting. He said he was booked under the draconian law known as PSA at such an age when he was unable to differentiate between the right and the wrong. He first detention came when he was just eleven.
According to Zubair, the biggest fear of India was Syed Ali Shah Geelani. He told me that there were various groups fighting for the freedom of Kashmir but have got different ideologies. If there are some differences, people should directly approach those people, with whom they have the differences rather than speaking over social media and letting the conspiracies hatched against the leadership succeeded. According to him, unity was the need of the hour. Later, when I was about to leave, he hugged me and kissed me on my face and said, “Dear Adnan, Geelani Sahab is a valuable treasure and every Kashmir will feel his importance when he will leave this world like every human being is supposed to. Follow him!”.
Pertinently, till the time I met him, I was totally against Hurriyat but Zubair made me aware of the conspiracies being hatched by India against the Hurriyat leadership.
While he was talking with me, I thought like he was directly talking to my heart and I wasn’t even able to argue with him. The words from his mouth were directly striking my heart.
Before meeting Zubair, I was living in denial. Whosoever tried to make me understand anything about Hurriyat, I argued and later stopped listening but that was the day when I met a guy to whom I was unable to utter a single word against Syed Ali Shah Geelani. As far as I know, he loved Geelani Sahab more than himself.
Time and again, he was booked under PSA. As soon as one PSA was quashed, the other one was slapped by the authorities. Even, a case was framed against him, declaring him as a drug addict, which evidently pained him a lot. He was one of the victims of injustice being done to Kashmiris by the Indian state.
And what we see today is how people are getting divided on the basis of different ideologies they follow. It pained Zubair and is paining every Kashmiri who knows what the unity of Kashmiris actually means for India.
Finally, Zubair, for whom the harassment of his family members by security agencies and his frequent arrests became intolerable, opted to choose the path of the gun. He decided to took arms for the sake of fighting this injustice. And on 1 April, he left for the heavenly abode when he got killed in an encounter with the Indian armed forces, leaving behind a void which will always remain.
I am in a state of denial. My heart can’t accept the truth that Zubair is no more. The memories we shared together and the warm hug we had with each other, are rewinding back again and again. I feel like there hasn’t been any considerable time since we met. I still remember how humble and patient he was. I still remember his way of talking. I still remember!
How many more stories, like those of Zubair, need to be narrated to make the mute-spectators wake up from the deep slumber. How much blood needs to be spilled for attaining our distant dream – Peace. Do es Kashmiris have a right to live in peace? Don’t the Kashmiris have a life to live and enjoy it? Don’t we deserve to live the way like the people of India are living?
We Kashmiris are tired of shouldering coffins of our beloved ones. There is no home in Kashmir that hasn’t its tales of oppression and injustice to tell. It’s time to shun all the differences among the different stakeholders and to end the miseries of a common Kashmiris.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author)