An Encounter With A Family Which Has Lost A Young Son To Militancy

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Even for a grown man, it is difficult to see the distress of parents wailing for their blossoming child who has chosen militancy and death

As a Kashmiri, for years I have heard of instances in which young men, even boys, left their homes to join militancy. It felt sad. It troubled me for some time to see young, blooming lives becoming cannon fodder for this conflict imposed upon us. Then life moved on.

Today, the misfortune of a family devastated by the loss of a child to militancy hit me in the face.

Even for a grown man, it is difficult to see the distress of parents wailing for their blossoming child who has moved into the folds of militancy. The old parents have lost the light of their eyes. Their pain is painful beyond description.

I was at the residence of Mehraan Yaseen Shalla, the 19-year-old who became a militant a few days ago. As a correspondent, visiting his house was a professional assignment for me. I thought I would talk to his family members and neighbours to file a report on this sad development.

The cries of the wailing parents hit me hard. An old man and woman completely bewildered that their blossoming, happy child has chosen the arms of death. People were visiting their home to express their pain and offer comfort. But how could parents feel any comfort when their beloved son had chosen the path where brutal death is a near certainty.

It was difficult to watch the agony of the family. Even after listening to the video in which their son Mehraan announced that he had become a militant, they wanted to somehow believe that all this was fake. Mehraan would be back home soon, lovingly smiling and greeting them as always.

Family Blames Itself For Son Turning To Militancy

Mehraan’s parents seemed to be searching in the dark for answers. They wanted to know where did they go wrong? Where did they misguide their child that his thoughts turned to militancy? Their well-maintained three-storey house in downtown Srinagar seemed to be enveloped in a pall of gloom.

I saw Mehraan’s elder brother Faizaan looking dazed and tormented. It seemed that he had not slept for the last couple of days when the family came to know that Mehraan became a militant.

Faizaan too was blaming himself that his younger brother had joined militancy. Over and over aga

Mehraan’s elder brother Faizan

in, he seemed to be asking the same questions. How did I miss the signs that my little brother was troubled? If he was facing any hardship, any problems, why didn’t he discuss with me? What went wrong that he did not prove to be a good guide, teacher and mentor for his brother?

Mehraan’s Inconsolable Mother

Mehraan’s mother was not in a position to talk. Perhaps she wanted to live with Mehraan’s memories in her heart. She slipped into deep anxiety and mental pressure. The doctor had to be called to give her medication.

Nothing seemed to relieve her pain. She only wanted to close her eyes and feel Mehraan close to her.

Our religion and culture have always taught us that no one in the world can match or replace the mother’s love. “Paradise lies beneath your mothers feet,” we are taught. We know that if after death, if we are buried near the feet of our mother, we shall enjoy paradise. Hurting our mother is the biggest crime in our religion. Obeying and caring for the mother has fruitful outcomes. It is our mother who had kept us for nine months in her womb, borne the pain at the time our birth, raised us and always loved and cared for us.

How did Mehraan leave his mother to die crying for him by playing the game of death?

The Distraught Relatives

Among his relatives, Mehraan was most loved by his maternal uncle. I saw him beating his chest and crying hard for Mehraan. He was shouting in pain. “Come back! Come back! You are aware of the hardships I am going through. I will bear and tolerate each and every kind of pain, b

Mehraan’s grieving family crying for him to return

ut the pain and hurt you have given me is unbearable and incurable. Please return home. I was dreaming to see you as a gentle and adventurous boy. I had never imagined that you will pick up guns and be the part of game where only death is the result.”

Misplaced Narrative of Freedom

Kashmir has been witnessing violence and killings since three decades. A common and innocent Kashmiri cannot figure out why his homeland has been changed to hell despite being a paradise on earth. Our misplaced narrative for freedom has endangered the word Kashmiriyat.

What is Freedom? To my mind, freedom is the choice to live and let others live. Killings and voilence don’t go with freedom. Kashmir needs freedom from killings. From Militancy. From Terrorism.

Kashmiri teens are innocent. They fall prey to those who support terrorism in order to keep the pot boiling. The life and blood of Kashmiris is sold to receive rewards from Pakistan.

 A common Kashmiri does not receive anything from this destructive state of violence. The only thing we have achieved is the filling of graveyards and receiving coffins. Whether it is a militant or a security man, it is the Kashmiri who is killed.

I have observed this for many years. Coffins come to the houses of commoners like us. Coffins don’t come to the houses of those who are fattened by Pakistan in the name of Kashmir conflict.

A common Kashmiri need three meals in a day and a peaceful environment for himself and his family. Thousands have been killed in last three decades of violence. What has been achieved? What are we Kashmiris waiting for? That Kashmir should be blacklisted and we Kashmiris should lose our identity? The time has come for us Kashmiris to unite and uproot this narrative that supports destruction and violence in our paradise.

Family left shocked

For the recent Eid celebrations, Mehraan had purchased baked goodies and other eatables, and had happily celebrated with the family. He was studying in the second semester of B Com (Hons) and was also working as a delivery boy with a company. On May 18, Mehraan left his home around 7.15 pm and did not return. The worried family lodged a missing report at the local police station. On May 20, a video clip went viral on social media in Kashmir, in which Mehraan admitted that he has joined the militant outfit The Resistance Front. He was seen requesting his parents not to search him for him.

Mehraan’s distressed family later released a video clip, hoping that it would reach him.

In the tragic video clip, the family is crying for Mehraan to return. 

Mehraan’s parents can be seen crying that he is aware of the challenges faced by the family, and instead of being a helping hand, he has left them. “Please come back, please come back,” the family is crying over and over again.

The recruitment of local youth into militant ranks is an issue of serious concern. Youth brainwashed by radical groups leave the family, leaving their parents and siblings with a lifetime of pain and suffering. For the past two weeks, the clips of Palestine were making rounds in Kashmir. They may have instigated the youth to resort to extreme action.

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