New Delhi, April 7: Two incidents reported recently have brought into sharp focus the trail of death and sorrow that mindless terrorism leaves in its wake. One is about a Kashmiri father pleading that his son, a soldier in the Territorial Army, be declared a martyr while the other is of a helpless wife appealing for the release of her husband being held captive by Naxal extremists.
The second incident pertains to the Central Reserve Police Force jawan, Rakeshwar Singh Manhas, from Jammu, who is missing after the recent Sukma-Bijapur border encounter between armed forces and Naxals.
Several jawans killed were from the Commando Battalions for Resolute Action (CoBRA) unit, while others were part of the Bastariya Battalion of the CRPF and the District Reserve Guard. The only one missing is 35-year-old Manhas. Even thorough combing of the area has not yielded any result giving rise to the speculation of his being held captive by the Maoists. In fact, confirming the hostage crisis are several claims by local journalists that they received calls stating that Manhas is in Naxal custody.
Meenu Manhas who spoke to a TV journalist over the phone was told to send a video appealing to Naxals to release her husband. Meanwhile, Meenu has appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, to secure her husband’s release.
“I want to request Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah to bring back my husband. Wherever he is, I appeal to you to bring him back. If he is safe, bring him back somehow. I request Modiji to bring him back like he brought Wing Commander Abhinandan from Pakistan,” she said.
Continuing, she broke down in tears and said: “I last talked to my husband on Friday at 9:30 pm. He told me that he was going for his duty and will talk to me the following day. No one is giving us any information. We have called the control room but they assured us that we will be given information soon. But it has been two days now. We are relying on the news for now. I appeal to PM Modi to ensure his freedom.”
It is ironic indeed that while jawan Manhas hails from Jammu, another heartrending scene takes places unfailingly each day in Kashmir.
Cut to Shopian in Jammu and Kashmir where the onset of dawn sees 56-year-old man Manzoor Wagay walking with a shovel and a spade in hand. No, he is not on his way to earn his daily bread. Instead he heads for fields and orchards located in proximity to dig for hours. All to find the body of his 24-year-old son, Shakir Manzoor, abducted by terrorists and mercilessly killed later.
Returning home so far empty handed for the last eight months since August last year, he never loses hope. He is back to digging next morning.
Shakir was a jawan in the Territorial Army, who was abducted, tortured and killed by terrorists.
It was during Eid celebrations that tragedy struck Wagay and his family on August 2. Wagay’s son Shakir, a rifleman with the 162 Battalion of TA, had come home to rejoice during the festival but tragedy struck when returning back to his unit in Balpora, terrorists intercepted his car and abducted him at gunpoint. Torturing him for hours they dumped his body unceremoniously. Just because he was a duty-abiding armed personnel serving his nation!
Even though the slain jawan’s blood-soaked clothes were found three kilometres away from his home, his body was not. And from that day onwards, uncertainty has loomed over the father and family.
Following Shakir’s abduction a few days later, an unverified audio clip surfaced in which a terrorist, identifying himself as Abu Talha, claimed that he had killed Shakir. Interacting with the press persons, Vijay Kumar, the Inspector General Kashmir, had said: “Talha who was later killed during one of the encounters had claimed that after snuffing out Shakir’s life, he buried his body somewhere nearby. But till we have not been able to find his body.”
This devastating news broke Wagay but also left him distraught. Not wanting his courageous son to be declared as missing, Wagay started his unending search to trace the body of his son. While officially he is considered missing till such time Shakir’s body is recovered, Wagay insists on Shakir being recognized and remembered as a martyr.
Making a heartfelt request, Wagay says: “I appeal to people to help me trace the body of my son. My heart says he lies buried within a radius of seven-eight kilometres from home.”
Preferring to sit at the entrance of his house on his return in the evening, Wagay stares vacantly at Shakir’s photograph, hoping against hope that his son’s body is found, to give a finality!
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