“Where is Papa”- 3 Year Old Daughter of Zeenat ul Islam Keeps Asking

January 25

Zafar Dar

Boggled with the sudden absence of her father, the rush of hundreds of mourners at her house, three year old Ayesha looks for refuge in her grand father’s lap.

As Ayesha calls for her father, Mohammed Yusuf Lone with a grim face, tears rolling down his eyes holds Ayesha and consoles her saying, “Your father will come to you soon.” Yusuf’s house was torched along with the house of his two brothers in Turkwangam Shopian in May last year by Government Forces.

At a secluded corner, Ghulam Hassan Shah is being consoled by a few men, “This is the path of Allah, your son was brave.” His 30 year old son, Zeenat ul Islam, was killed in 12 January in a gunfight with Government Forces.

An Improvise explosive Device (IED) expert, Zeenat ul Islam, a resident of Sugan was first arrested in 2008 at Sopore. “He was an affiliate of Al Badr Militant outfit operating in the Kashmir valley,” the Police had claimed.

Zeenat was released three years later and he started his routine life, pursued his graduation from Degree College Pulwama and started working as a part time labour. “He wanted to continue his studies further, but was constantly harassed by the Forces,” his father Ghulam Hassan Shah told The Kashmiriyat.

“His life had become obnoxious, he was arrested or summoned to the Police station almost every second week, it was a tough period for me,” his father said. Eventually, a family friend advised his father to get Zeenat married.

In 2014, Zeenat ul Islam after constantly being harassed by the state forces was married to a girl in nearby Turkwangam area of Shopian district. “On his engagement day too, he was arrested by the Forces, later released on the condition that he would be back to the camp the next morning,” his father told The Kashmiriyat.

He said that a year later in 2015, his daughter was born, but the Forces continued to harass him, despite the fact he had become a father to a girl. “The state continued to summon and call him frequently to the camps and Police station.”

In 2015, finally Zeenat ul Islam left home on a sunny day to never return back. “I have joined Militancy,” he had sent a letter mentioning this to his father. A few days later, the Government Forces raided his house.

In May, the Government Forces vandalized his house and in the same month, three houses belonging to his in laws were torched in Turkwangam. “His wife had gone to his in laws, the forces suspected him to be there, so they torched his house,” his father said.

He said that Zeenat was a frequent visitor to home. “A few days before the encounter, he visited home and kissed the forehead of his daughter and looked with moist eyes towards me,” his father told The Kashmiriyat adding it was not normal for Zeenat ul Islam to leave home with wet eyes.

A few days later, Zeenat’s father got a call from the local Army camp that he had been killed in the encounter late night on Saturday in  Kulgam’s Yaripora area. “Yes, thousands of people did come to offer his funeral prayers, but he soon will turn history.”

“His daughter keeps looking for answers to where her father is, what should i answer her,” he said.

Zeenat-ul-Islam was among the three surviving Militants out of list of 12 most wanted Militants prepared by the Government forces in the year 2017. The other two are Zakir Rashid Bhatt alias Musa and Reyaz AH Naikoo alias Zubair.

The last year, when Al Badr started gaining ground in Kashmir, Zeenat ul Islam quit Hizb ul Mujahideen and joined Al Badr as the chief commander of the outfit which is mainly operational in Shopian district of South Kashmir.