25 Years On, No Trace of Srinagar Family’s ‘Disappeared’ Son

SRINAGAR: A family from old Srinagar city is still searching for their disappeared son who went missing 25 years ago after being arrested by Indian troopers in 1992.

The 166 battalion of the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) picked up Muhammad Sidiq Sofi of Khankah-e-Molah, a top commander of indigenous militant group Ikhwan-ul-Muslimoon, from Bemina locality in Srinagar on the intervening night of March 24 1992. The forces have neither handed over the man nor communicated anything on whether he is dead or alive to his family over these years.

Muhammad Sidiq was arrested with other militant commanders on March 23, 1992 including Javaid Ahmad Shalla, Masrat Jan, Shakeel Ahmed Beigh, Mudasir Maqbool, Muhammad Altaf and others.

His family members told news gathering agency CNS that the persons who were released later on disclosed that all of them were taken to Tatoo Ground Batamaloo interrogation centre by the BSF. They further revealed that Muhammad Sidiq Sofi and Javaid Ahmed Sahlla were with them till March 25, 1992 up to 5 pm, while as authorities claimed that both Sidiq and Shalla had escaped from custody near Budgam. The entire Valley observed a three day shutdown and demanded Sidiq and Shalla to be shown on Television but the administration simply ignored the strike.

According to family, a petition vide number 888/92 was filed in the High Court Srinagar in which the administration repeated it’s sorry about the duo’s escape from custody.

Muhammad Sidiq Sofi’s nephew, Nazir Ahmad, said that his family left no stone unturned to trace his disappeared uncle, but failed in their attempts.

“From police stations to courts to politicians to army camps, we searched everywhere but could get nothing but promises from officers,” he said. “After the arrest of my uncle, our family filed a missing report then moved the court but nothing was achieved. In court, we twice filed the case but the Indian forces never bothered to reply and the court did nothing.”

Nazir said that the J&K government offered a government job and a cash amount to stop him from following the case, but he preferred to try and trace Sofi’s whereabouts.

“We never deny that my uncle was a militant with a ‘mission’. We wanted to meet him if had been detained, we wanted to offer his funerals as ordained by our religion (Islam), if he was martyred. We had only these two aims, nothing else,” Nazir added.

Nazir said that he was told by officers that Sofi had fled from custody one day, as the army was en route to Budgam. “I was told that Sofi fled when his colleagues attacked the army on the way to Budgam. Sometimes I was told that he has fled to Pakistan. We did not rule out the possibility but officers had no answers to our questions. We asked them if he is in Pakistan, would not he have called the family once. Although we had tried to find him in Pakistan too,” Nazir said.

Sofi is not the only case of enforced disappearance in Kashmir. A local human rights group estimates that 10,000 people have disappeared since the start of armed struggle challenging Indian rule in Kashmir.

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