How do I mourn, asks father of Hizb’s Hindu commander

By Binoo Joshi, IANS,

Jammu : Hindu rites or Muslim burial, grief or embarrassment. There are no easy choices for Jeevan Lal Shan, whose son Subash alias Wasif, a Hizbul Mujahideen militant, was gunned down by security forces in a forest in Jammu and Kashmir.

Support TwoCircles

The 25-year-old Hizbul tehsil commander was killed Tuesday after a gunfight in the forests of Kishtwar, about 210 km from here.

And his father, a senior grade constable in the Jammu and Kashmir Armed Police, doesn’t know quite how to mourn the death of his eldest son, who he says took to militancy in 2003.

“We are perplexed about how to mourn. It is both grief and embarrassment,” Shan told IANS from his home in Rezna Palmar village in Kishtwar district.

Hindus are in a minority in the area where the Shan family lives. “Even the administration has kept us in the dark about Subash’s identity. They told us that his face is mutilated beyond recognition.”

And what about the last rites?

The father is in a dilemma about his son’s will to perform his last rites according to Islamic rituals. “I cannot do that,” Shan said emphatically.

He remembered the day when Subash took to militancy, rare amongst Hindu families in the region. “Subash was 17 years old studying in Class 10 when on July 19, 2003, he went missing from home.”

The family lodged a missing person’s report in the police station on July 24 but the search was futile.

Then 45 days later, the father got a letter from his son saying: “I have joined militancy of my own will. And these steps of mine will not return.”

He also wrote to his father that he had embraced Islam and would now be known as Wasif Ali Rizvi.

“Subash, who wanted to join the army, had joined the militants,” said Shan, recalling how he had put him in the local Vidya Mandir school where the first thing he was taught was the Gayatri Mantra.

Subash’s friend Haroon Rashid had also left home with him but returned after three months and continued with his studies. “He is now working as teacher in a private school,” said Shan.

Shan has three other children – the brother younger to Shan is a Class IV employee in police, a second is in Class 12 and the youngest, a girl, is in Class 8.

“But Subash was the most intelligent and hardworking of all,” said Shan.

“He was motivated to take up militancy. I used to be out of home for my job and his mother is illiterate,” he said.

He said he went to the parents of some local militants in the area for help but to no avail. “I spent over one lakh rupees but no one really helped me.”

The first known case of Hindus in militant ranks was in 2005 when Anar Singh was killed in a shootout with security forces in Bhaderwah area of Doda district.

Hindus started joining the militant movement in the mountainous Doda, Kishtwar, Rajouri and Poonch areas in Jammu region, primarily to save their community from terror attacks.

Some were also lured by money and the power of the gun, according to police sources.

About half a dozen have been killed and about the same number have surrendered, while about a dozen are still active.

(Binoo Joshi can be contacted at [email protected])