The air was filled with emotions, faces in the court room looked grim as a mother narrated her son’s arrest and his subsequent disappearance before District and Sessions judge Srinagar. Her son Manzoor Ahmad Wani was arrest six years ago on December 22, 2001 at Tragpora, Varmul.
Bhakti, the witness to the arrest of her son, today recorded her statement in the court amid sobs.
The High Court after taking cognisance of a petition filed by Bhakti ordered a Srinagar judge to probe the alleged disappearance.
It was in October, 2001 when 21- year- old Manzoor, a driver by profession was married to Jabeena, daughter of Mukta Bhat of Rohama village of Varmul district. Manzoor was asked by his father-in-law to live with them after marriage because Jabeena was only child of Mukta.
Mukta Bhat who owned large area of agricultural land had earlier turned down a marriage proposal of his nephew, Gulzar Ahmad Bhat, for his daughter Jabeena which had irked Gulzar.
On December 22, 2001 Jabeena fell ill and Manzoor decided to take her to Varmul, for a medical checkup.
Manzoor and his wife boarded a bus at Rohama and before proceeding to Varmul. Bhakti who was to accompany them, joined them at Tragpora. As the bus moved barely a few yards, two persons identified as Qayoom and Jehangir, “active renegades” stopped them, Bhakti said.
“They dragged Manzoor from the bus, where few metres away Major Bhatacharya of 28 RR was standing with troopers. The Major approached Manzoor and took him in custody. He grabbed Manzoor by the neck and took him inside the camp through the main gate,” she said.
The camp of 28 RR is near the main Chowk of Tragpora.
I jumped out of the bus and ran towards the main gate of the camp where Manzoor had been taken, she said.
Bhakti said that she was stopped by Qayoom and Jehangir who threatened her to return or be prepared to see her son’s body.
Bhakti said she waited at the main gate for the entire day.
In the evening she was told by an emissary of Major Bhatacharya that he would be released after questioning, she told the court.
When Bhakti returned home she informed her neighbours and relatives about Manzoor’s arrest.
Next morning, she along with some villagers and relatives went to the 28 RR camp where Major Bhatacharya had “detained” her son.
Bhakti and the villagers were stopped and chased away by Qayoom and Jehangir amid brandishing of weapons.
“However, I did not move place and tried to sneak in the camp when Major Bhatacharya warned her of dire consequences if she did not return,” she said.
In the evening Qayoom came to Bhakti’s house and told her not to visit the army camp again.
He advised her to talk to Gulzar Ahmad Bhat, her daughter-in-law’s cousin.
At first Bhakti did not realise what to talk to Gulzar.
“After Qayoom’s departure, Bhakti talked to her daughter-in-law Jabeena about Gulzar’s involvement in the incident.
“After some days she heard from Gulzar’s friend that he had given Rs one lakh for Manzoor’s murder to renegade Qayoom,” she said.
Qayoom and Jehangir were working with the local 28 RR camp and enacted the whole drama with their friend Major Bhatacharya playing a role, she said.
After six years today, Manzoor’s whereabouts are still not known. One of the accused, Jehangir has been killed. Qayoom has been arrested while Gulzar is roaming free. Carrying her son’s photograph everywhere Bhakti fights on relentlessly despite her falling health.