An archive of oral history of Kashmir, recorded in video, audio, and writing. Let the people speak.
Name: Khalid Baig
Lives in: Pune, Maharashtra
Writing date: March 2014
“The images keep coming back to me, the agony and anxiety felt during those hours will never let me forget that day. It is a reminder of those grim days, the death nail of the golden peaceful era having ended, the innocence being robbed, the naivety having been exploited. The crowd outside my house in Lal Bazaar was massive, relatives caught in a pensive mood, women sobbing, my mother quickly holding my hand, rushing me inside our bedroom. The five year old in me even today recollects these scenes amongst a haze of sadness, confusion and tension. I ask Maa about the commotion, she does not answer me. I insist several times, she still does not respond, she has never acted like this before. I don’t know what to do, this is not the way to respond to your son. I get infuriated and throw my books on the floor, shout out loud, ask for my dad, hoping for his support and assurance. She finally responds with an answer which I don’t know how to deal with? “He has picked up by Mujahids”. I want to see dad, please get him, please. I plead to her, she just weeps. The tears keep rolling down; my shouts keep on growing louder. It has been five hours since they took him, he had dropped me off to my school bus in the morning, and surely he should be at home by now. It’s evening time, I don’t remember what transpired from noon till now, I wake up from my bed , there is no one around. I walk down to our Kitchen, the women in their Pherans are still there, and their pensive moods seem to have been frozen in time. My grandmother looks exhausted, she does not look at me, and I search for Maa. There are some known faces and hundreds of unknown amongst the crowd, some look at me with sympathy, others with a blank face, I just cannot make sense of all this. Suddenly, there is plenty of chatter, jubilation, everyone gets up, and there is hugging, screaming, and people crying loudly. I see Maa, she is smiling and crying, I have never seen people doing this! Everyone rushes to the main door, they are kissing a person on his cheeks, I stand on the railings of our Chooykh, its dad. He is smiling, everyone’s hugging him, kissing him on his forehead, his cheeks, and he tightly hugs my grandmother. Everyone is happy, my grandmother curiously cries even louder after hugging him. Finally after all the hour’s, I get cuddled by dad, that was one stressful day. Years later, I ask him about that fateful day. “It had become a routine affair for many an armed Kashmiri Mujahideens during the early 1990’s to ask for money from “well to do” ordinary Kashmiri families.”