Valley victims accept compensation, quietly
HT spent more than a month tracking down the families of the 110 victims killed during last year's summer of protests in the Kashmir Valley and found that all but one had quietly accepted the central government's compensation, even though they were scared to publicly admit it. Ashiq Hussain reports.india Updated: Feb 20, 2011 01:13 IST
Ikhlaq was born on September 15, two days after his father Javaid Ahmad Rather, 29, and 15 others were killed in the most violent day of unrest during last year's summer of protests in the Kashmir Valley.
The separatists and their sympathisers rejected the central government's compensation offer of Rs 5 lakh to the families of the 110 victims, mostly young people, calling it "blood money".
HT spent more than a month tracking down these families and found that all but one had quietly accepted the compensation, even though they were scared to publicly admit it.
Most were also disillusioned with the separatists, who milked the violence and the deaths for all their worth, promised help and then abandoned them once the hullabaloo died down.
Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, whose hardline faction rejected the compensation offer and applied social pressure on the families not to accept it, couldn't be contacted as his phone was switched off.
"We are common people. And a leader perceives a situation from the point of view of his lea, 45, Javaid's elder brother, who ran a shop with him, told HT.
"We realise now that despite the clamour, nobody really cares about the incident and everybody has to fend for himself. I initially refused the compensation. But Javaid has left behind his widow and child…," he added.
An old father, who lost his earning son, told HT: "We were expecting our leaders (separatists) to come forward but nobody turned up. How can the families (of victims) survive on mere words of sympathy?"
Ghulam Ahmad Khanday's only son Ishtiyaq Ahmad, 16, was killed on June 29 when a police bullet pierced his throat in Anantnag district.
"After my child's death, not a single person came forward to help. Even the case against the police is being fought by a state lawyer. People (separatists) promised they would fight my son's case, but these now seem hollow," Khanday said.
"I swear I never wanted to accept blood money but why are only the poor called upon to sacrifice?" he asked.
Political analyst and a professor of law in Kashmir University, Sheikh Showkat, however, said the families accepting compensation does not mean "mood of reconciliation".
"All 110 families, except one in Srinagar, have accepted the compensation," confirmed divisional commissioner, Kashmir, Asgar Samoon.