Tales from the Woods

Syed Tajamul Imran,

On 8 July 2016 after the Indian armed forces gunned down
Burhan Wani, a charismatic 22-year-old militant commander of
the Hizb -ul Mujahideen – which is designated as a ‘terrorist
organisation’ by India – having grown alarmed by his success in
recruiting fighters. Wani’s killing sparked a straight month of
mass protests, and a heavy Indian crackdown. Thousands of
protesters were arrested, at least 100 civilians were killed, and
many more disfigured and blinded by the use of pellet guns.
Schools, colleges and businesses all closed. Mobile internet
were suspended and broadband was cut off affecting the local
press. Post this all, a friend of my brother Farooq Hurra joined
Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and my brother started getting calls from
different agencies including CID, Army and police. With all this
in the back of my mind and seeing my brother getting beaten to
pulp over his friend’s decision to join rebels, I took it upon
myself to find about the psychology of young boys who were
taking up guns to fight Indian rule.
= After some two years, like many who couldn’t bear the torture
by Indian forces, my brother left for woods. I diligently followed
the armed résistance part of Kashmir conflict and the trail of
‘young boys leaving for woods and coming home dead.’ A year
after, when I received my brothers dead body some 9 months
after he left for woods, I found it natural to conclude at the end
that in conflicts like Kashmir and in such a situation and
circumstances, things only tend to worsen for future. Mothers
losing their beloved sons, fathers- stick of an old age, sisters a
part of soul and brothers a part of heart.

Like us there are hundreds of such families who went through
the same pain among them some cases touched my heart and
mind. In order to find the reasons like “How, when and why” I
went to such a same place.
Youngest ever Rebel of Kashmir-Age 13 years 4 months (As
per his mother) became a popular name when he was gunned
down in an encounter back in Dec 2018. As in Kashmir, in
order to become a hero, one has only two options: die as a
Martyr or become a jail bird. The pictures which then surfaced
on social media raised a many questions about his joining.
Some observers were of the belief that the Militant organisation
Hizb-Ul-Mujahideen must would have done some research
before activating such a low aged boy. Post his joining, As
Manan wani’s joining was also the topic youth used to discuss
and became the headlines of Top news outlets, Hizb’s chief
Syed Salah-Ud-Din, for the first time in the three decade
militancy in Kashmir made a statement , asking boys studying
in colleges and schools to ‘stay away’ from armed struggle and
concentrate on studies.
“Under international law, no side can use minors during any
military or militant operations, be it as informers or as militants.
However some introspection needs to take place at each and
every level of society.” Khurram Parvaiz; Convener of the J&K
Coalition of Civil Society was quoted by a news agency then.
But even after issuing the statement Mudasir didn’t came back
‘nor was he sent back’. In order to find the story How and why
he left for woods I travelled to Mudasir’s native village Hajan – a
small town in Bandipora district surrounded by Indian army
camps and the Jehlim river which flows to Pakistan.

As I opened the main gate of the house looking for Mudasirs
family his Cousin opened her silence after a pause, “They don’t
live here anymore. Since Mudasir achieved martyrdom his
parents were not feeling good. So they thought it is better to run
away from the things which makes them remembers their
martyr son.” A few yards away Mudasir rests in a grave at a
martyrs Graveyard of Hajan.
= After getting the phone numbers of the family I left Hajan
with a thought that I am not the only man who have lost
someone beloved in the bloody conflict. While travelling
back to Srinagar – capital city of Indian Administrated
Kashmir, I searched about Mudasir and found that
Pakistani ISPR’s another youtube channel ‘Pak Cyber
Army’ has dedicated a song “14 saalaa.. mudasir hum…”
Since then, I hum this song once in a day.
A Day after I called on the number provided by the cousin of
Mudasir and found that the person on the other side of the call
is Mudasir’s lone ‘Elder Brother’ Raja. As I started the
conversation with my name and the reason I have called, he
responded in a good way and requested to call him after a day
as he is not well. Later I came to know that on the day he lost
his Brother he got injured by getting unconscious repeatedly
that day and due to the head injuries, he often remains in
hospital. Raja is the only bread earner of his family most
important only hope of his parents as well.
Next day I was checking my whatsaap account and found a
reply from Raja on a Picture of my Brother ‘Ruban’ “Sir, Who is
this.” After a pause I replied “He is my brother and I lost him in
a same way like yours.”, “Then we share a same bond” Raja

A Day after as the conversation became personal now, I asked
Raja to share the experience of Living your life without your
brother and the things which made him a Rebel. Raja was
admitted at SKIMS Bemina in ward 9.
Few days later I again called Raja and he still was in the same
ward of SKIMS Bemina. Hearing the background cries of his
Mother I asked a friend of mine to accompany me and we went
to SKIMS Bemina.
Lost in their own world, Raja along with his parents were
waiting for doctors to check the medicines they had brought
from outside. Suddenly Raja caught me, and said are you
‘Tajamul’? – ‘Yes, I am Tajamul.’ He then introduced me with
his parents.
“Zani sui yas yie tengul aasi paumout – (Only the wearer
knows where the shoe pinches.)” Fareeda – Mother of Mudasir
& Raja, Living in her 40’s opened the conversation with this
phrase. “He was a part of my soul, with him I lost everything.”
She further stated.
‘That year like others we celebrated Eid-Ul-Azha at home and
after some 10 days he went missing. Then after some 20 days
we came to know that he has joined LeT.’ Raja Intervened in
order to hold her mother as she was crying. Mudasir had gone
missing from his home on August 31, after an encounter took
place at nearby Parray Mohalla in which three Lashkar-e-Toiba
militants were gunned down. His picture surfaced on the
internet with a gun: the Post-Burhan style of announcing entry
into rebel brotherhood. This picture not only testifies the
present status of Kashmir but also the vulnerability of yet
another generation ready to get consumed in the never-ending
cycle of bloodshed.

Before his ordeal began Mudasir was summoned by JKP a
many times. “In Jan 2018 after ‘India’s independence day
celebrations’ local boys in Hajan raised the flag of Pakistan in
order to irritate army and police. Next day persons from police
came during the night and took Mudasir. With the intervention
of local Awqaf-body after few days he was released. “Staying in
prison for some 14 days changed his mind once for all”
Fareeda his mother, told this reporter.
“That day as I went to Police station with food, Mudasir saw me
and cried, once I was supposed to leave he acted like he is fine
and laughed, Deep inside I was known about his scare.”
Fareeda said. Mudasir was released after some 14 days then.
This was not the first time nor was it the last time when Mudasir
was called or taken by police or army. “Young boys remain in
the limelight of Police everywhere in Kashmir, Mudasir was one
such case.” Raja said.
“In another such incident Mudasir who was studying in Govt
Middle school Hajan was beaten and dragged in school
premises by police back in 2016 which became the turning
point of his life.” Raja said. Since then we tried to convince him
to stay back but he was looking for the way to leave woods as
that incident police beating him and dragging him in the
premises of school had touched his mind and heart. He carried
this scare in his heart.” His Mother Fareeda, is still in grief and
Shock that her son has been killed.
In another world, a boy like him would be living in a world of
fantasy and idealism, surrounded by friends and family,
dreaming about making it big in life. But Like many such
Mudasir was unfortunately born in Kashmir, a place ridden by
bloodshed and uncertainty since last three decades. How could

a 14-year-old understand the complexities of conflict? Isn’t it
the collective duty of the society to counsel such kids so that
they see hope in life, and not wish for death, as is the case with
Mudasir. With almost 250 militant were gunned-down in 2018,
that year had been the bloodiest in last one decade.
When asked once he left for woods did the family ever met and
tried to council him in order to shun the path he has chosen.
Fareeda while wailing said “Post his joining, he once came to
home, I tried to convince him and even cried, with no option left
I told him I will call police you just surrender. But he was firm on
his cause and asked me to be humble and have faith on
Almighty.” Mudasir’s mother narrated while talking with me.
“That day it was very hard to say goodbye to him, Wish he
would have stayed for more time.” As per family that was the
only time when Mudasir visited his loved ones with his ‘Beloved
AK-47’. Young Boys in kashmir feel dying with what they
believe “Dignity” is better then a normal death. But Life is a
bigger blessing which nobody till date is able to put in their
“I still remember, It was Thursday, 3 Rebels were martyred but
police recovered only two bodies, As third one was missing and
Mudasir along with his friend Saqib who too joined LET came
home, Both were in hurry. I sensed something is wrong but this
is the last time I am seeing my son was not in my mind. Later I
got that The body of 3 rd Rebel was with both of them and the
AK-47 which we saw on pictures which went viral once they
joined were of the same rebel.” his father told TKL.
“We did not want people to run over the blood of our son, who
sacrificed his life for the people of Kashmir, he was young, he

was hopeful and had dreams, ours ended with him,” his father
“The path he chose is not wrong but we personally feel he was
too young to shoulder the choice he made and he made his
own choice. We respect that.” The family later added.
Mudasir’s Family lives in a single room in sopore now with
heart patient mother Fareeda and father a chronic patient, and
a brother and a little sister. When asked the reasons of shifting
from Hajan Fareeda said, “We often saw raja at his brothers
grave, Crying. Due to which Raja got more involved same is the
condition of his sister. So we thought it is batter to leave Hajan.”
In Sopore Raja works at a manufacturing unit of his uncles
furniture Shop in order to run his family. Raja is still 18 but the
responsibilities have made him ‘Head Man’ of his family.
“Mudasir was not my son only, but a hope, Lone bread earner
who would also work as a labourer on part time basis to help
the family financially as my son Raja is handicapped,” Fareeda
As I was supposed to leave, Muadsir’s Father opened, “The
SSP Bandhipora Zulufkar Sahab was eager to get Mudasir
back, he often called me for the same but when Mudasir was
Martyred Nobody from Police or Army called us as they do.”
“Wish they could’ve called us I would have asked my son to
leave the Gun, I could have saved my son.” Fareda said.
Mudasir’s Brother Raja seemed disturbed with this as he
argued with his mother. “Sir, There was a quarrel between
Police and army, Police wanted Mudasir to surrender but Army
didn’t wanted that.”

Regarding the same and in order to get the picture of the other
side I talked to the then SSP Bandhipora Mr. Zulufkar Ali. “I
tried my best even called his parents a many times so that they
can counsel him, But the destiny had something else for him.”
When asked about not calling family during the gunfight Zulufar
Ali said, “The encounter site didn’t belong to my jurisdiction, still
I talked to the concerned army officer then as per him he had
talked to family.”
“I am not supposed to talk on that as of now.” Zulufar Ali said
when asked about any ‘Qurrel’ between JKP and Army during
the encounter in order to get Mudasir alive.
Like many others on the same path, his life was cut shot.
Mudasir Billa, who was the youngest Militant in the history of
Armed struggle in Jammu Kashmir and was killed during an
encounter in Mujgund belt of Srinagar on a cold December
night in year 2018.
“Doudh haa cheey wyn praaczan lour’uy, waey, Baa karay
ghoor ghooro. The milk is still on your lips, Let me cradle you,
You are yet to drink my milk, Let me cradle you.” On the
funeral, Mudasir’s mother then was quoted by a news agency.
Seeing the health condition of Raja, His mother said, “I was so
happy that Mudasir will afford all the expenses of her sister and
will fulfil her all dreams as Raja is handicapped, but all dreams
crashed the day when Mudasir’s bullet ridden body reached her
As my Brother Ruban used to say, “Some wounds don’t heal.”
‘Time heals every wound’ I would often reply .. Time is proving
him Right with every such family I visit. At Mudasir’s home
seeing Raja, his family and the pain they carries makes me
think that I am not the only brother who have lost someone
precious then everything/one else. The conflict is brutal.

To be continue.
(The author is a Kashmir-based story teller, an ace Columnist, writing for many
coveted media houses of South Asia. He can be reached at [email protected] )

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