A part of me died with you,
A part of you continues to live in me,
Good bye till we meet again.
He arrived on four shoulders and was laid on the floor covered in white sheet. I ran to him and placed my hands on the sheet trying to feel him, he was cold to touch, in fact ice cold. The moment I lifted the cover from his face, his head had a large bandage but his face appeared calm and serene. I shook him as I wanted him to talk to me but he lay there still, lifeless and cold. He was my father Sh. C.L Shalla, Police Inspector who got martyred for being an Indian. Today, as I write about his martyrdom, the weather outside seems to be in sync with my feelings, the mist outside seems to have been lifted from my eyes and the skies seem to be pouring down my pain. My father, late C.L Shalla belonged to the family of landlords of village Seer Jagir, Sopore. But we used to live in Baramulla town. He got deputed to CID and was posted in Kupwara in the year 1988. He worked tirelessly and collected information about the Jihadis who had crossed over from Pakistan after getting trained in arms. He interrogated few local militants and their over ground supporters thereby putting himself in the top place of the hit list of Hizbul. He was very confident that India will crush the Pakistan sponsored terrorism soon under the able rule of Shri Jagmohan. By the end of 1989, selective killing of Kashmiri Pandits had already begun and a slow exodus of Pandit’s from the valley had already begun. In January 1990, the situation turned from bad to worse as Pandit’s were getting clear signals to move out or face massacres. By March most of the Pandits had already left the valley to save their lives and honour. We stayed back and continued our normal routine life.I used to normally go to school, and never felt any fear but I could feel an uneasy silence that was killing me from inside. One day while returning from school ,few local muslim boys stopped me and told me to be prepared to get converted to Islam and they threated me by saying that I shall soon be married to a muslim. This episode sent my confidence down the drain. I narrated this incidence to my father and after this episode I stopped going to the school and my father took the decision that we three i.e me , my mother and my kid brother will shift to Jammu sans my father, a decision which I opposed. Finally, daddy agreed to move to Jammu with all of us. He went to Kupwara to apply for leave and this information was leaked out to the militants. His leave got sanctioned and we were to proceed to Jammu on 2nd May. On 1 st May my father left for Kupwara to deposit his service weapon to finish other important task in the office. As he left in the morning he turned back hugged and kissed me and said to me, ”you are my brave girl, always take care of the family” and he bade me goodbye. I asked him ”daddy,wapis kab aavoge” he replied ”wapis aana bhagwan ke haath mei hai insaan ke haath mei nahi”.These were the last words he spoke to me and these words still haunt me. When my father did not return back till late evening my mother got worried and sent my maternal uncle who was putting up with us to police station at Tehsil road Baramulla. The incharge there told him he will inquire about my father and will let us know the same as soon as any information is received by them. At around 8pm he came to our house and informed us “shalla sahib is in a meeting with the governor and will return by morning. This was the big lie as we came to know later that by then my father was already shot dead. On 2nd May 1990 daddy did not return till afternoon but 2 policemen came to our place and told something to my uncle and my uncle left home in a hurry with those policemen. He was driven to Handwara where he identified the body of my father. When he returned he did not had the courage to tell us about the catastrophe that had befallen us. In the early morning on 3rd May , my bua’s husband came to our home and he and my uncle called me out in the park and told me that my father has been killed. I felt as if the skies were falling on my head and as I was just a teenager I did not know how to react or how to vent out my pain. Confused I hugged my mother and cried a lot. As we tried to gather the information about that day, we came to know that my father’s jeep had developed some technical snag so he decided to board the bus to Baramulla. As my father reached the bus stand Kupwara , he sat in the bus while his PSO approached a man wearing a pheran near the butcher’s shop and hugged him telling him “he is in the bus”. PSO checked from the man whether they were carrying the weapon or not. Once the bus moved out of the bus stand a van started following it. After travelling a few kilometres, the van overtook the bus and stopped it. Three men jumped out of the van and one opened the driver’s door and put a gun on his head while other two men entered the bus and shouted my father’s name and told him to stand up. Daddy sat quietly ,so did other passenger’s who knew my dad. Suddenly daddy’s PSO pointed his finger towards my dad thus disclosing his identity to the terrorists. Daddy was forcibly deboarded from the bus and the driver and passenger’s were threatened not to open their mouths, an instruction that they followed religiously and didn’t utter even a single word to anyone. Daddy was driven away in the van to some village near Handwara where he was brutally tortured, his teeth were broken, his bones were smashed. Then they tried to hang him but daddy gave a very tough fight, so they shot him from point blank range in his temple and a brave Indian fell to fanatic Islamic terror. After his cremation on 3rd May, we left Kashmir on 5th May 1990 never to go back again.
(The writer is the daughter of the martyr and has shared her story on request from Sunil Raina Rajanak)