Answer to her 15-yr-old query will answer her prayers
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For 15 years, they have been hoping their prayers will be answered. Their questions too. But one question haunts Ghulam Nabi Bhat's mother, 70-year-old Sajida Begum, the most: "Is my son dead or alive?" She hopes the government can help her find the answer.
Sajida remembers the year, 1992, when Bhat, a resident of Hawal, left for his shop. She does not remember the exact date, but how can she ever forget what other shopkeepers had told her. They informed her that soon after Bhat opened his shop, personnel of the Border Security Force (BSF) 107 Battalion appeared in a white Gypsy van, picked him up and took him to their camp at the Industrial Estate in Bagh-e-Ali Mardan Khan. "He left for his shop. Shopkeepers told me he was arrested by the BSF," says Begum, her eyes moist. "I couldn't believe them. How could they have arrested my son? He was innocent".
Thereafter, Sajida and her husband began their search. "We went to the BSF camp," she says. "The officer in charge, Vinod, assured me he (Bhat) was in their custody and would be released soon. We waited for many days but the officer didn't keep his word".
She says the BSF officer started avoiding her. Sensing something amiss, she approached J-K Police. "We lodged an FIR with Nowhatta police," she says. "The SHO (Station House Officer) there assured me they will trace my son. Initially, he was helpful. But afterwards his response became cold".
The family then started a search on their own. "We visited every security camp in the valley". The family had to cough up some money too. "We paid money to some officials after they promised they will inform us about his whereabouts," says Haseena Akhter, Bhat's sister. "We were desperate to know about him. We were ready to give them everything for a glimpse of my brother".
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