A newly built small house -- in the interiors of Pampore, the saffron town of South Kashmir – is where a lady namely Hameedah puts up along with her three children – two daughters and a son.
Hot summers and harsh winters make an easy entry into her newly constructed and partially furnished house.
First floor of the house is half done with no window panes at all. Living room is covered with blankets to obstruct cold from coming in. Rugs ain’t sufficient to do the job but as they say they would strive hard to eke out their living.
The lone bread provider of the family Latief Wani – Hameeda’s husband – was killed during an unrest which gripped valley seven years back over the Amarnath Land dispute.
The unrest hit Kashmir in the month of June 2008 when authorities decided to handover a chunk of land to Amarnath Shrine board – who look after the annual pursual of pilgrimage of Hindu God.
As soon as this news hit the masses the situation became tumultuous. Both Muslims and Hindus protested – with one in favour and another in dissent. Hence the crisis broke out both in Jammu as well as in Kashmir.
Kashmiri drivers who would visit Jammu for daily jobs would be thrashed almost every day in those days.
Latief, 34, a truck driver, was on his regular job on 5th of August 2008 – with a truck full of fruits and biscuits -- from Jammu to Srinagar.
His brother, in another truck, also accompanied him.
Chaos on that in Jammu was gaining momentum. When Latief reached Kathua, a town in Jammu, a group of rioters surrounded his truck.
Quoting his brother-in-law Hameeda says: “while passing through Kathua a vehicle full of some 20 men had stopped Latief’s truck.”
Road ahead was blocked and he couldn’t escape.
“Latief was snapped up of the truck and was grabbed by those 20 men -- equipped with iron rods and swords.”
The mob lynched him but none came forward to help him not even police who were present there, Hameedah remarks.
“They had left him half dead on the road. Witnessing his condition some Army officials had taken him to the nearby hospital.”
His condition was devolving so he was shifted to All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi on August 7.
“He had serious head injuries and multiple fractures and was therefore admitted in the trauma centre of AIIMS.”
It was too late for him, she says.
He had already slipped into coma by then. For next 12 days his condition remained the same but couldn’t win over his end any further.
Hameedah had received the news of his accident through a neighbour.
“I would frantically roam around, from one place to another, to seek help, so that I could fly to Delhi.”
Had it not been for a pro-freedom leader she would have never made it to Delhi -- to catch a glimpse of her dying husband.
At hospital, where her brother-in-law was already present, when she saw him, she lost her composure.
“I asked him to make Latief talk to me but he was calm. I could figure no signs of life, except for the machines producing sounds, in the room.”
He had no eyebrows, no hair and was bruised purple. I began to beg for mercy from my lord, she remarks.
The other day while she was sitting in the waiting room her brother-in-law asked her to pack the bags.
“I asked him why and he put his arm around my neck to break the news.”
“He is no more,” he said. “I felt like someone had just pulled the rug from under my feet.”
She had to complete the formalities to take him home now hence she collected all her strength.
Back home Saima, their eldest daughter, was desperately waiting for her parents to return but her longing got never fulfilled.
“When I lost my Abu I was too young. I enquired about him for months together but he was nowhere to be found.”
Their home was two rented rooms then.
After Latief’s death her neighbour introduced her to a Magistrate namely Zaffar Shalla – who helped her in building the house she resides in now.
“Many NGO’s and self help groups came to help me after my husband’s death. I also get monthly allowance from an NGO but that is not enough to suffice the needs of my growing children.”
Her other children Bisma, 12 and Aqib, 10 and also Saima are still in school. Many people advised Hameedah to remarry but she says: “where will my children go if I remarry.”
Life has been miserable to them in these years but that doesn’t stop her from fighting the case of her husband.
Latief’s death certificate mentions death to be natural which Hameedah says, “I will never accept.”
“He was killed and not till I will bring the truth forth I won’t stop my fight.”
Joining her voice Saima makes it a point that they together will fight till justice is done.
Author tweets at _LubnaReshi