SRINAGAR, June 30: It may never top the best sellers list, but 65-year-old Abdul Rashid hopes his small book will be some comfort to thousands of Kashmiris whose relatives have disappeared during more than two-decade old violence involving militants and security forces.
For years, Rashid desperately searched graveyards, morgues and security camps across strife-torn Kashmir for his son, Fayaz Ahmad, who was 28 when he went missing in 1997.
He found nothing.
“We left no stone unturned in search of Fayaz, we searched mortuaries,hospitals, graveyards … but we got no clue,” Rashid says in his 48-pagebook, written in Urdu.
“It was his marriage time and his bride is still waiting.”
The book, “Custodial Disappearances and Indifferent Rulers”, details his search and his suffering.
“After more than eight years of searching, I decided to publish my horrible experience to convey to the parents of disappeared people that they are not alone in their battle, in their search,” said Rashid, a retired civil servant.
Rashid has sent copies of his book, dedicated to Fayaz, to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. and then President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
Rashid says Fayaz was working as photographer with the University of Kashmir when he was picked up by police on an autumn morning in 1997 as he left home for work.
“He did not return since then, we are still waiting,” Mariam Bano, Rashid’s wife, says, tears rolling down her eyes.
The family says police told them Fayaz escaped.
There are no official figures for the number of people missing. But the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons says 8,000 to 10,000 have gone missing since 1989 almost all after being picked up by security forces.
Authorities deny such allegations.
“We have been investigating and we are still investigating the cases of disappeared persons but have found most of these people have gone to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir for arms training,” a police officer said.
“But whenever anybody among the security forces does something wrong,people are taken to task,” he adds.
Security agencies accuses Pakistan of helping militants fighting in Kashmir but Pakistan denies the charge.
“I always ask God ‘why did you take my son away from me like this’,” says70-year-old Ghulam Nabi, pointing to the photograph of his son who vanished six years ago.
“I also pray that this bloodshed ends so that such kinds of disappearances also end.”