The ones we love are enemies of the state. From childhood, Hasan had revolutionary inspirations. He was the youngest amongst his family members. This was the reason because of which he got lots of love and care from his family members. Hasan’s mother-Tasneem Begum- was much worried regarding her son’s future, as he was much inclined towards the Kashmir freedom movement from a very young age.
March 20th, 1990. A rally of pro-freedom group naming Jammu Kashmir National Front(JKNF) was passing in front of Hasan’s house. People were chanting slogans “hum kya chahtay, Azaadi”. Hasan who was only sixteen at that time got inspired from the revolutionary procession. His road to freedom was in front of him. That night while sleeping he was chanting the same slogan “hum kya chahtay, azaadi”. Tasneem Begum after hearing the slogan came to his room, kissed his forehead and went away. On that night, she became aware of the fact that his youngest son has chosen his path. As Fidel Castro said, “homeland or death”.
The sons who never returned
Shahzain had returned home. He belonged to a middle-class family living in the neighborhood of Hasan’s family; he was the only son of his parents. Tasneem begum told her son regarding the arrival of his childhood friend. Hasan upon hearing the news of Shahzain’s arrival rushed to his house barefooted, full of jubilation. Meet him at five near Chinar Garden, Shazain’s mother-Salma Bhat- delivered his son’s message to Hasan. At five, Hasan was roaming around Chinar Garden waiting to meet his old friend. He was taken by surprise when someone clasped an arm around his neck and said, “Hello Old One”.
“I told you I will return someday and meet you in Chinar Garden around 5:00 pm.” “You remember Hasan!”, Shahzain asked? “Yeah, but it took you two long years to fulfill the promise you made”, replied Hasan. “Now as a childhood gesture, give me one from the pack of cigarettes you have”. Shahzain smiling took a cigarette out of the pack, lighted, and gave it back to Hasan. “That’s so nice of you, brother. Old habits die hard. I remember the time when we used to smoke one cigarette daily and you always lighted it for me as a goodwill gesture. You are still the same, said Hasan”. Shahzain smiled and said, “For you a thousand times over”.
Days, weeks and months passed. Shahzain and Hasan used to spend a lot of time together. Their friendship was getting stronger day by day. Moreover, both of them had revolutionary and ideological commitments regarding the ongoing freedom struggle. Together they discussed politics, guerilla warfare tactics, literature and poetry. With the passage of time, they were getting closer to the noble cause they had in mind since early childhood. Hasan’s mother was much concerned about his youngest son. She was aware of the fact that Shahzain is under surveillance from security forces as he recently had come back from the training camp on the other side of the border. The more the two got closer, the much concerned their families became.
30th May, 1991. Hasan woke up early in the morning and took his breakfast. “I am much concerned regarding you”, said his mother. Hasan was taken by surprise and he asked, “why is that so?” “Because you are the best friend of a freedom fighter and you know what the consequences can be. Look son, your mother has grown old and already has received corpses of her three sons. You are my last hope ‘Beta’. I don’t want to lose you dear”, said Tasneem Begum.
Son and Mother
Hasan having tears in his eyes, stood up and hugged his mother. “I fully understand your sentiments mother, but you remember, when I was a child you used to tell me the tales of freedom fighters. You know I always wanted to do something for my people and my motherland. My moment has arrived. Kindly, don’t stop me and I hope you will not stop me”, said Hasan.
Hasan lied down on the lap of his mother. “I will go around 2:00 p.m. We have three hours together”, he said. “You have grown much handsome, my son!. I had many plans for you, but I find your plans more important than my desires. As we have three hours left, so I will cook your favorite ‘Biryani’ and you will eat out of my hand”, said Tasneem Begum.
Hasan took his final meal from his mother’s hand. Afterwards, he stood up, got dressed in the newly brought tracksuit and started moving towards the front gate of the house. As he was about to go out of the door, he run back towards his mother; hugged and kissed her and slowly started moving again towards the door. As he was about to put his foot out of the door, his mother called him in a loud voice and said, “Will meet you someday on the banks of Dal-lake” and waved her hand. Hasan waved back and finally stepped out of the door. After his departure, Tasneem Begum sat down and prayed for the well-being of his youngest son. As per her sixth sense, this probably was the last time she had saw her son alive.
Shahzain was waiting outside. When finally Hasan showed, he moved towards him and said, “I hope our comradeship and ideological commitments towards the resistance movement will long be remembered and will act as a source of inspiration for the generations to come”. Shahzain and Hasan, hand clasped, embarked upon the new journey of their life.
Muzaffarabad-the capital of Pakistan Administrated Kashmir- became the new home of the freedom fighters. The pro-freedom group JKNF had a large public support on both sides of line of control (LOC). On June 28th, 1992 JKNF hold a large public procession at ‘Appar Adda’ (a place famous for political activities in Muzaffarabad). Hasan and Shahzain were amongst the speakers of that program. As both of them were fiery orators and quality intellectuals, they quickly rose to prominence and got famous on both sides LOC. Long-haired, fair-colored boys of Downtown Srinagar, became the face of the revolutionary resistance movement.
October 20th, 1992. Hasan and Shahzain along with their comrades finally got the much-awaited opportunity. The plan was to attack the military convoy passing through the Gawkadal area. After launching a sudden attack, the freedom fighter dispersed into adjoining areas but the security forces followed, and finally, the group was trapped. The fight was very intense in which many security personals were killed and some freedom fighters got martyred. Hasan and Shahzain were the remaining members of their group and they were running short of ammunition.
“Our moment has arrived. We promised that whatever it takes, we will stand by each other and will fight till the last breath. We have played our part and I hope our path will be followed by the generations to come”, said Hasan. They hugged each other for the last time, stepped out of the building, chanting freedom slogans and firing the remaining bullets.
Hasan and Shahzain
Two prominent freedom fighter Hasan and Shahzain along with their group have been martyred in the intense gun-battle with the security forces. In seconds, the news got viral in whole of Srinagar. Thus, people started visiting the houses of the martyrs. In the evening around 4:00 pm, the funeral prayers of the freedom fighters were offered. Thousands attended the funeral prayers. A gun-salute was given to martyrs from their fellow comrades.
October 19th, 2019. It has been twenty-seven years since Hasan departed for the last time. Tasneem Begum for all those years has followed the same old routine which she uses to have with his youngest son. She wakes up early in the morning, offers the ‘Fajar’ Prayer, and then make breakfast. She goes to his son’s room and calls his name so that Hasan may respond. But he never responds. On the table, Tasneem Begum places a plate which used to belong to his son. At the dinner table, the plate is again there. Since Hasan’s departure, his mother has never admitted the fact that his son is no more. For twenty-eight long years, she has born the pain of losing his youngest son. On a daily basis, she sits for hours in front of the gate from which Hasan departed for the last time.
Salma Bhat, after hearing the news of his only son’s death became insane. Although she is alive but in an abnormal state. She for the last twenty-eight years, she has been continuously going to her son’s grave. She goes there, recites the Holy Book (Quran), and sit around the grave for hours. Salma calls Shahzain name multiple times hoping that he will respond. This is the routine that Salma Bhat is following for the past twenty-eight years.
They Never Returned
Hasan and Shahzain never returned. They have become a house-hold home in Srinagar. People acknowledge their efforts for freedom movement. The tales of their friendship are known to every teenager in the town. Moreover, they have become role-models for the youth. The revolutionary resistance movement is going on. Countless others’ have got martyred. The spirits and the sentiments of the people are high. The liberation of the motherland which was a dream of Hasan and Shahzain along with many others’ will become a reality one day. As said by Gerald O’Hara,” The land is the only thing in the world worth working for, worth fighting for, worth dying for, because it’s the only thing that lasts”.
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Written by: Sibghat UllahSibghat Ullah is a citizen of Pakistan Administrated Kashmir. He has done his Bachelor’s in Software Engineering from Abbottabad Comsats. Besides this, he is a writer; political and social activist.