May 21 On 21st May, 1990 three gunmen entered inside the bedroom of the Mirwaiz e Kashmir, Moulvi Mohammed Farooq who had refused security, and shot him dead. Mirwaiz had...
Photos/ Tawseef Nazir
I visited the house of Heff Shermal in Shopian the last month to meet the father of Saddam Padder; who suspiciously looked at me and fired a series of questions, who are you? Which Agency do you work for? Ghulam Mohuddin Padder upon hearing that I am a journalist looked amazed. It was the first that some journalist had come to meet him.
Lying in the corner of his one story house Ghulam Mohuddin Padder recited the ordeal of how his son Saddam up in Heff Shermal area of Shopian. “He was very active and a naughty child.”
“He would ask for my permission to go to school, later when I went to cut wood in the fields, I would often find him at a distance,” his father who is a wood cutter and an orchardist remembers. "He would immediately run away upon spotting me."
‘‘Along with Waseem Shah (another local Militant), the Government Forces picked, summoned him constantly to Police Stations,” he remembered.
Padder’s father remembered how he was picked up constantly by Government Force. “He was harassed, picked time and again, sometimes dubbed as a stone thrower while on other occasions, he would be picked as an upper ground worker for Militants,” Ghulam Mohuddin Padder.
Then eventually Burhan Wani recruited Saddam Padder into Militant ranks in the late 2013. Apart from being a shadow of the slain Burhan Wani, Saddam climbed the ladder within the ranks to become one of the most wanted militants in the Kashmir valley, in fact he figured in Army’s Most Wanted Militants for two consecutive years as a category A++ Militant carrying a cash bounty of 12.5 Lakhs.
Eldest among the four children of a well-to-do and influential orchardist in the Shermal area of Shopian district, Saddam Padder was part of the Burhan group of 12 militants that appeared together in one photograph, of whom now only Lateef Tiger (Named as Ishfaq Dar in the photograph) and allegedly surrendered Tariq Pandit survive.
On Sunday Morning around 2:30 am, the Government Forces including 44 RR cordoned off the Badigam area of Imam Sahib Area in Shopian, following specific inputs about the presence of Saddam Padder and his associates in the area. Immediately Saddam and associated opened fire around 3:30 am to break the cordon, however they failed.
“Allah gave me this life and I am returning to him as a Martyr, served his cause and I am content,” Saddam Padder told his family in the last call. The call was made around 3 15 am, and the whole family burst into mourning but he consoled us saying that he had chose his path and he was very happy with whatever he had achieved. Saddam Padder in his last call apart from seeking forgiveness also said, “Do not blame anyone for my death, nobody informed Forces about my presence, my phone call was traced.”
The Police officials asked the trapped Militants to surrender, the answer came, More Firing from Militant side and few hours after, the encounter had finished, five militants killed. Identified as Saddam padder of Heff Shermal in Shopian, Tawseef Ahmed Sheikh of Rampora Quimoh, Adil Malik of Malikgund Shopian, Bilal Ahmed Mehand of Heff Shermal and Mohammed Rouf Bhat of Ganderal.
Singing hymns of Freedom and folktales of bravery, thousands of people from nearby areas in processions marched towards Heff Shermal as the body of Saddam reached his house. People came and started taking their places without any guidance, some stationed themselves on tree tops to get a clearer view of the slain Militant, Saddam Padder, overall it is a startling as well as a disheartening sight.
This is not merely a funeral, but this is a celebration of ‘Martyrdom’ a ceremony of one of the fiercest Militant commanders. As the rush of people swelled, people struggled to create their own space and have now become essential to these events.
To this open field, people are still coming laden in tractors, trucks and mostly two wheelers, people insisted that Slain Saddam be not laid to rest on Sunday. This is a remote area, distant from hustle and bustle of cities. As many as two dozen Militants led by Zeenat ul Islam offered gun salute to their slain colleague; this is the only time when families of active Militants get to meet their wards.
Security Agencies term Saddam’s killing as a big success describing him as a “master recruiter”. Saddam’s name featured in many attacks carried out across South Kashmir, though his primary zone of operation was Shopian district.
Saddam who is survived by a younger Brother and three sisters was seen in Heff along with other four Militants killed in the encounter, on Saturday, Local of Heff Shermal told The Kashmiriyat. They met some locals as well and asked people to pray for them and the success of their cause, they added.
Saddam’s family said that they were never asked by the Police or anyone to persuade Saddam Padder to surrender. “Today he has achieved what every Muslim desires to achieve, he had created fear among Security Forces, but now Saddam is there in the heavens,” a participant of the massive funeral told The Kashmiriyat.
As per Eyewitnesses the corpse of Saddam was defaced, his jaws separated, his teeth broken, face trampled with boots, but thousands of men and women gathered in the belief that Saddam had reached his destiny and now it was just his body, dead and insensitive to anything.
Saddam was initially a part of Lashkar module until 2014 along with Abbas Sheikh, Rahil Amin Dar, Wasim Shah and Farooq Bijran. He apart from being one of the Militant alive from Burhan’s group over the years had become the face of Kashmir Militancy and was equally celebrated on the social Media.