FAHEEM ASLAM/GOWHAR BHAT
“What and who should we vote for? For those who killed my son and ruined the entire family?” said Mushtaq Ahmad Ganai, whose 21-year old son, Muzaffar Ahmad, was killed allegedly by a deputy commandant of 78 battalion, CRPF, and his personal security guards. He runs a grocery a few meters away from the polling station.
Sitting on a wooden log outside the shop, Ahmad said nothing would compensate his slain son. “I want my son’s killers behind bars. But even that won’t compensate my son’s loss. Nothing can compensate it,” he told Greater Kashmir. “We are 10 members in our family. All of us have resolved that we would never vote.”
Lone and his family were not the only ones to take such a vow. “What for is the development that politicians promise? It all means nothing when innocent civilians are murdered,” said Khursheed Alam, cousin of Muzaffar Ahmad. “We are yet to recover from the shock of Muzaffar’s killing. It is ironical that the killers are still at large even as the government itself indicted them,” he said.
In two polling booths in Koil, out of 600 votes just 20 votes had been cast till 10.30 am. A report in the evening said out of 2900 voters in the village, only 128 had voted.
Muzaffar Mushtaq was among three persons who sustained bullet injuries after CRPF troopers fired indiscriminately on peaceful protest at Koil. He was shifted to the district hospital Pulwama where doctors referred them to SMHS Hospital Srinagar for specialized treatment. However, Mushtaq succumbed to injuries on way to the hospital. “We haven’t voted because we want this is the time to demonstrate that we haven’t forgotten our martyrs like Muzaffar,” said a group of youth in Koil. “Some people voted here. But all of them were elderly persons who owe some kind of allegiance to political parties or their leaders. But as you can see from vote count they don’t count,” they added.
A report submitted by the Home Department in February last year had charged the deputy commandant and his guards with visiting Koil without informing the officers of the J&K police. “It is a case of professional misconduct on part of the police officer,” the report said, while recommending adequate relief and a job to the affected family.
But the mere recommendations mean nothing to the victim’s family. “Relief and job don’t mean justice,” said Mushtaq Ahmad.