It was an emotional moment for several families when they released a calendar featuring their loved ones who went missing allegedly in custody of government forces in past nearly three decades in Kashmir.
The calendar was released under the banner of Association of Disappeared Persons (APDP) for the fourth consecutive year. The calendar comprises sketches of the missing persons and dates when they disappeared allegedly in custody of forces since 1990.
When the calendar was released at Pratap Park here, there was no one to seek whereabouts of Abid Hussain Dar, a teenager from Narwara Eidgah area of Srinagar. “Abid’s mother Hamida Parveen died in 2012 after a long struggle of searching for his whereabouts,” said APDP chairperson Parveena Ahanger.
As per APDP, Dar went missing allegedly in custody of JAKLI stationed at Kathua Mandwal in Jammu, while he had gone there with his classmates on a school trip in 1996.
For Safiya Azad, not a day has passed without remembering her husband Humayon Azad, who as per APDP went missing after he was allegedly taken away by Border Security Force from Mahjoor Nagar area here in spring of 1993.
“He was doing timber business. Our marriage had taken place hardly a year ago. When he (Humayon) disappeared, my son was about six months old,” said Safiya.
Throughout these 25 years, Safiya said she had only strived for two things. “I ensured my son Dawood’s education and constantly strived to know whereabouts of my husband,” said Safiya.
“My husband went missing in spring. She then every spring has been desolation for me and my son. This year’s calendar finds mention of my husband for April. It’s going haunt me,” she added.
While, kith of disappeared persons with photographs and calendar in their hands held a silent symbolic protest inside Pratap Park, a girl stood away from clicking and shuttering of cameras. She is Shahida, who for the first time all along from Ajas Bandipora had come to participate in the APDP event. “It is my mother Habla who has followed it all her life. But today she was ill. So, I decided to come as this year’s calendar has my father’s portrait”.
Shahida was three year old when her father Muhammad Akbar Lone, as per APDP went missing allegedly in custody of Rashtriya Rifles in February 1999.
“This calendar is our nishani (symbol) of truth. It reflects our continuous unflinching struggle to search our children. It should be seen by those agencies responsible in disappearance of our loved ones that we have not forgotten them,” said Ahanger, whose son also went missing allegedly in forces custody.
The sketches of all the 12 missing persons including three teenagers in this year’s APDP calendar have been made by cartoonist Suhail Naqshbandi.
Naqshbandi termed drafting of sketches as “emotionally charged experience”.
“I was provided very small and blurry pictures of all these 12 persons. It was difficult to figure out their details as an artist. This was akin to what had actually happened to their existence: blurred,” said Naqshbandi.