‘Kashmir House’ Was Their Bid For New Home

‘Kashmir House’ Was Their Bid For New Home

2 March 2012
The Indian Express
Manoj Prasad

Hazaribagh: Though they called it ‘Kashmir House’, the two-storey structure in Hazaribagh, Jharkhand, was Farukh Ahmad Malik and wife Farhat’s bid to provide their children a home as distant as possible from the militancy in J&K. A few days ago, their old world collided with the new as son Ahtesham Malik and cousin Tauseef Ahmad Pir were arrested for alleged links with the Lashkar-e-Toiba, and for planning to set off blasts in Delhi. The shocked couple say they are not arguing that the two are innocent, but that their cases must be understood in the context they come from. “This is the place (Sopore) where jehadis compelled almost every family to contribute one son for carrying out jehad against India,” says Farukh. “If some miscreants and anti-social elements had forced them to act as terrorists, they should be prosecuted as per law.” Hazaribagh SP Pankaj Kamboj confirms that the two have been forthright in sharing information. “Throughout the investigations they cooperated with us.” Employed with the J&K government’s Handloom Development Corporation, Farukh belongs to Badambagh, Sopore. Farhat belongs to Pirtar village in Jharkhand’s Giridih, and Ahtesham was born in this district on April 13, 1987. Their son’s kidnapping by Laskhar cadres when he was 19 years old helped the family make up its mind about moving to Hazaribagh. “Some of them warned me not to inform the police. But I defied their diktat and lodged a complaint at the Sopore police station on June 9, 2006,” says Farukh. Ahtesham called him up one and a half months later, telling him he had run away from the Lashkar camp. “Later when he met me in Srinagar, I took him to SSP Irshad Saheb, who kept him in custody for some time and then released him.” Knowing that both the police and Lashkar cadres would be henceforth watching him, it was Farhat who persuaded her husband to shift to Jharkhand. In 2007, Farukh purchased a plot of land at Maulana Azad colony in Hazaribagh district, near Pirtar, built a house and named it Kashmir House. He continued to live and work in Sopore. Ahtesham finished his schooling from Hazaribagh, and then enrolled for a course as lab technician in a private educational institution. Farhat says it was she who persuaded the parents of Tauseef and another relative Irshad to also send them over from Sopore to finish their studies here. “The aim was to take them away from militancy-hit Sopore and make them live and study peacefully.” On February 25, Tauseef and Irshad got enrolled for a spoken English course at a private outfit in Hazaribagh called the American Institute of English Language and Computer Education. The same day, Ahtesham was arrested in New Delhi. Even as Farhat placed a call for Farukh in Srinagar, the police arrested Tauseef from the English centre on February 29. “We found him (Tauseef) very obedient and sincere,” says teacher Mithilesh Kumar. Farhat and Farukh haven’t locked the doors of Kashmir House since the arrests - all that they wanted to keep out perhaps has already made its way into their lives.