Statement Condemning Enforced Disappearances in Indian-Administered Kashmir on International Day of the Disappeared
Justice for All strongly condemns the continued and alarming practice of enforced disappearances in the…
Tazeen Hasan produced this personal narrative on behalf of Sehar Shah based on her one-to-one communication with Shah. Shah’s postings on Facebook and Twitter have also been used for details.
My name is Sehar Shabir Shah, and I am the daughter of the renowned “Prisoner of Conscience,” Shabir Ahmad Shah, who has endured a staggering 36 years of his life behind bars. Our lives have been marked by constant struggles and challenges, but nothing could have prepared us for the events that unfolded ahead of the G20 summit.
It was a seemingly ordinary day when chaos erupted. Troops, comprising the army, Special Forces, and black cat commandos, descended upon our peaceful abode around 6:00 p.m. Their presence was overwhelming, as armored vehicles blocked off the bypass and effectively isolated our entire neighborhood.
In the midst of it all, our helper sought solace in her room, completely unaware of the impending intrusion. The troops forcefully smashed down the gate of our kitchen garden, hopping over walls, and brazenly entering our home through that very same entrance.
At the time, my mother has engaged in the evening Asr prayer. The sound of the doorbell interrupted her devotions, but she was unable to immediately attend to it. With each passing minute, the clamor outside intensified. By the time she reached the gate, roughly 20 to 25 heavily armed men had already breached our house’s defenses. Scaling walls and jumping inside, they instilled fear with their imposing presence.
The troops began shouting at my mother as she cautiously opened the lobby door, demanding to know who else was present in the house. Despite her assurances that she was alone, they persisted, barking their questions and demanding more information. Eventually, they barged inside, their boots resounding against the floors, meticulously scouring every nook and cranny, leaving a trail of disorder in their wake.
My mother accompanied a few soldiers who ascended to the top level of our house, while the rest scoured the ground floor and other rooms. It was heart-wrenching to witness the destruction they wrought upon our once-serene drawing room. Furnishings were ruthlessly dismantled, and possessions were callously scattered, rendering the room unrecognizable.
The aftermath of their search left our rooms in utter disarray. Every wardrobe lay open, and belongings were carelessly strewn about. The sight of the chaos and devastation was deeply unsettling. My sense of disgust grew as I surveyed the wreckage that now plagued our home.
Before departing, the troops made their intentions clear. They intimidated my mother with threats of a return visit, leaving her shaken and unsettled. Fortunately, we had installed CCTV cameras throughout our residence, capturing every moment of this harrowing ordeal. Determined to document the full extent of their intrusion, I meticulously photographed the rooms and the mess they left behind.
The attached CCTV footage and images serve as a testament to the violation we endured on that fateful day. They bear witness to the destruction inflicted upon our home, forever etching this traumatic experience into our collective memory.
Through sharing our story, I hope to shed light on the immense challenges faced by families like ours, who bear the burden of political persecution. It is my fervent desire that justice prevails, that those responsible for the raid are held accountable, and that no other family must endure the same anguish that has befallen ours.
For 36 long years, my father has been unjustly held in arbitrary detention imposed by the Indian government, without ever facing conviction in a single case. Every passing day, my heart aches as I wait for the day when I can embrace my aging and gravely ill father once more.
The raid on our home, with its brutal intrusion and wanton destruction, only adds to the weight of my longing. It is a painful reminder of the injustice that has plagued our lives for far too long. As I pick up the shattered remnants of our belongings, I can’t help but feel the weight of uncertainty pressing upon me. How much longer must I endure this separation from my beloved father?