Kashmir baffled as mysterious disappearances stage comeback

July 7, 2020

Srinagar: On a sunny Wednesday afternoon, 22-year-old footballer Amir Siraj left his orchard to play soccer but `disappeared’ in thin air.

For the last 15 days, the family has been going from pillar to post but to no avail. A BA final semester student, Amir was known for football in the apple rich town of Sopore.  His mysterious disappearance has baffled not only the family but the police as well.

“Every afternoon, he used to go to play football in Adipora ground. On a fateful day, he left but never returned. We called up his friends and relatives, but to avail. Later we lodged a missing report,” said Nazir Ahmad, uncle of Amir.

File photo of missing Amir Siraj

Senior Superintendent of Police, Sopore, Javaid Iqbal said they are not ruling out anything. “We are investigating the case from all angles. So far he has not been traced. We are not ruling out anything,” he said.

Amir is not an isolated case. For the last one and half months, four youth have gone missing without a trace. From footballer to a Ph.D. scholar and from a pharmacist to school drop-out, youth with varied backgrounds are disappearing mysteriously, sending alarm bells ringing across the valley.

Sample this: Thirty-seven-year-old pharmacist from Preng Noor ul Hassan left for his shop at Nunar village to treat patients last month. When he did not return, his family called him up but the phone was switched off.

Father of a two-year-old daughter, he had a clean record in his locality. “My father had passed away and I was at my parent’s home. He visited us a few days before (his disappearance). So far, there is no trace of him. I appeal him to return at least for his daughter,” said his wife.

Senior Superintendent of Police, Ganderbal, Khalil Poswal said the investigation is underway and Noor has not been traced so far. “Hunt is on. We are not ruling out anything,” he said.

Likewise, Hilal Ahmad Dar left home with his friends on a trekking expedition at Gangbal on June 13.  A few days later, his friends returned home but Hilal went missing. 

hilal 2
File photo of missing Hilal Ahmad Dar

Holding an MBA degree and pursuing a Ph.D. at Kashmir University, Hilal has been an excellent student and debater all through his life. A resident of Bemina, Hilal had lost his mother to illness soon after 2014 floods and his father died of a cardiac arrest a year-and-a-half later.

What added another dimension to the disappearance saga was the police claim that Hilal has joined Hizbul Mujahideen. “If the claims are true then they should share his location with the family and we will persuade him to return home,” said Nisar Ahmad Bhat, the maternal uncle of Hilal.

Human rights groups said unless there is a word from the boys or those with whom they are, it is very difficult to say anything. “Having said this, there seems to be an old pattern linked to this saga. Say 20 years back, people were disappearing under mysterious circumstances and no one would know what happened to them. The government was claiming that they were with militants, but the families were denying,” said Khurram Parvez, programme coordinator, J&K Coalition of Civil Society.

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