‘JKLF commander Hamid Sheikh was poisoned’

Slain Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front commander Abhul Hamid Shiekh. (File picture)

I believe among all the youth who picked up gun to challenge Indian rule in Kashmir, Sheikh Abdul Hamid was the most dedicated and disciplined. But, the young militant commander of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front became a victim of vested interests.

Many people think that Hamid, the friend of my son Ashfaq Majid Wani, was killed along with his comrades while they were crossing Jehlum on a boat on this day in 1992 when, in fact, he was poisoned to death after he refused to be a part of a sinister plan hatched by the Indian military.

The official version is that Hamid drowned when a patrol party of Indian military fired at the boat. But the truth is that as he was drowning, the military pulled Hamid out and took him to an interrogation centre where he was brutally tortured and asked to work for agencies. The young man plainly refused and was given a lethal injection.

I remember receiving his body and of the other eight members of the JKLF who were also said to have drowned at Aael Kadal in Kashmir’s historic Old City.

I vividly remember Hamid’s body had not swollen; his hands, forehead, nose and lips were white. Apparently after being poisoned, his body had been  kept in a freezer to make us believe that he had drowned.

On Hamid’s right leg— below to knee— there was a needle mark. I along with other people present raised an alarm, but Brigadier Sundararajan Padmanabhan (who later became chief of army staff and was the in charge of that operation), threatened me. “Don’t raise the issue or you will meet the same fate,” I remember him threatening me. I spurned his threats.

The military told us that his body along with others was recovered after three days, but the facts are different. He was pulled out of the waters on the very same day the boat capsized and poisoned to death.

Against our wishes, we were given very short time for the burial. This was done to avoid opposition to the government theory.

When things became clear, by the evening of that fateful day, Radio Pakistan reported that Hamid was assassinated by injecting poisonous substance into his body.  Out of the nine killed on that day, some may have drowned, but Hamid was certainly killed by poisoning.

Hamid and Ashfaq were not known to each other before the resistance movement started. Similar ideologies brought them together. The duo met first in 1983, when Indian cricket team was heckled while playing against the  West Indies in Kashmir. With the passage of time they became best friends. The corner stone of their friendship was the fight against Indian rule. Their friendship was purely for the sake of liberation of Kashmir and their course of action changed the history.

(Abdul Majid Wani, is a former engineer, and is father of slain JKLF chief Ashfaq Majid Wani.)