A decade’s wait for justice: Cancer, depression, death consume Kashmir’s mothers

Machil
The Kashmir valley has a long tradition of expressing solidarity with the Palestinians. Representative image: PTI (File)

A young Fancy Jan’s life unfurls before her mother Khatija Khan, moment by moment, every day, year after year. It's been 10 years since Khatija lost her daughter, then 25. But her memories continue to haunt every nook and cranny of their two-storey home in Margarmal Bagh area in Srinagar.

No matter how much Khatija tries to avoid these memories, they refuse to go away, taking a heavy toll on her body and soul since 2010 — the watershed year when the Valley erupted in raging protests for months.

On April 30, 2010, the Army claimed it had killed three militants in an encounter in Machil sector near the Line of Control. It was later alleged that they had lured local youths, Mohammad Shafi (19), Shahzad (27) and Riyaz Ahmed (21) on the pretext of giving jobs and killed them.

Massive protests erupted across the Valley, demanding justice for the victims and action against the accused, besides the removal of armed forces from Jammu and Kashmir and the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). (In 2013, five of the six accused army personnel were sentenced to life imprisonment in the encounter case but four years later an army tribunal suspended the sentence and granted them bail in 2017.) By the end of summer that year, 120 civilians, mostly youngsters, were killed across Kashmir. Fancy Jan was one among them.

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