As a mother dies devouring the fear of disappearance and loss for her young son, the unfortunate family couldn’t discern the cause, reason and who was who.
Following a sudden storming, a distrait daughter—stuck in sightlessness since her birth—could only hear a thud as her mother’s midnight farewell sound.
Her mother collapsed on a cold and cemented porch of her home and made the daughter wail all around her lifeless body.
With that nocturnal demise, dirges erupted from yet another strife-struck home of Kashmir.
Days later, Rubeena struggles to give voice to her grief, as she continues to lament over her lost shade and shadow — her mother.
While grievers around her discuss the midnight raid rendering her orphan, the daughter with her plaintive face wonders about the raid party and her sibling’s cellphone.
“During that raid they told my brother to visit Zakura Police Station next morning to collect his phone,” says visibly-impaired Rubeena.
“But now, after taking my mother’s life, they’re saying that Habak area comes under the jurisdiction of Nigeen Police Station and not the Zakura Police Station.”
Concerned officials in the Nigeen Police Station told FPK that they cannot comment on the matter.
Another police officer in the Zakura Police Station immediately hung up the call on hearing the query.
SP Hazratbal, Irshad Rather, named SSP Srinagar as “the authorized person in District to speak on such issues with media fraternity”. But Srinagar police chief, Sandeep Chaudhary did not respond to repeated calls related to the midnight raid turned terminal.
Earlier, in a tweet, police had said: “On basis of an input, a joint CASO of Police & CRPF was launched in Meerak Shah Colony last night. Search was conducted. The search parties left after completing the search. In the morning it was learnt that one lady, Mst Khatija Putoo, resident of same locality, died because of a heart attack. Police is looking into the matter.”
But in absence of clear answers, Rubeena is endlessly thinking about the third night of Ramzan when she became an orphan.
Around 2:30 am that night, nearly a dozen masked men in fatigues carrying firearms showed up in Mirakshah Colony of Srinagar’s Habak area.
The raid party was searching for Rubeena’s brother, Javaid Ahmad Putu, a 33-year-old glass designer.
Though Javaid was sleeping on the third floor of his house, his mother Khajida, 60, father Ghulam Mohammad Putu, 66, and sister Rubeena, 30, were sleeping on the ground floor.
“I heard the knock,” says headman Ghulam Mohammad in a room full of mourning faces.
“Before I could even unlock the gate, two men jumped and barged into the house. They said they want to interrogate my son.”
Upon hearing this – Khadijah – asked questions in a slurred speech: “My son is innocent? What happened? Why do you want to take him? Where would you take him?”
Ghulam Mohammad didn’t want the raid party to take his only son.
“Wherever you take my son I will come along,” he confronted the cops.
In Kashmir, thousands of young men have faced disappearances, intermittent curfews, midnight raids thus, creating psychosis – literally and metaphorically – in preponderance with loss and fear.
“As I stepped outside the gate, they asked me to hand over the phone first,” recalls Javaid, while grieving in his room.
“And within 3 minutes, I heard a cry, so did the police.”
Numbed by the situation, Javaid couldn’t comprehend who they were. “Some spoke pure Kashmiri but others were talking in Hindi in a non-local accent,” he says.
A few of them were inside the premises, says Haleema, a 40-year-old relative. “They saw her [Khadijah] collapsing and told me to take care of her.”
After falling on the verandah, Javaid’s mother started frothing from her mouth. She took a gulp of water and closed her eyes forever.
As Khadijah lost her shadow in minutes, Javaid was still talking to police along with his father outside the gate. The father and son were unaware of the loss.
“In a bizarre swiftness, they told me to visit Zakura Police Station in the morning and left,” Javaid said.
Upon reentering the gate, Javaid saw his mother lifeless.
“Bai trovhas yeali, Mouji! Thoud wat’tieye (They let me go, mother! Please wake up),” Javaid informed his numb mother.
The dramatic break-in wherein the raid party left after creating the midnight crisis is now making Rubeena wonder: “Can this be still a dream?”
Barging into homes and marching with tarred boots in the middle of the nights are familiar situations in Kashmir, she says.
“We understand the criteria very well, but if my brother had committed any mistake, they could have come during the day.”
And despite losing the mother, the family is yet to fathom why they faced the raid in the first place.
Now in absence of any woman in her house, Rubeena fears—how a visually impaired woman can stay home all alone when her brother and father leave for work tomorrow.
“Who will ensure my safety? Anything can happen here,” she says.
“A woman always needs her mother and I being blind needed her the most. I cannot even go to the toilet without assistance.”