Just as the article referring to detention centres and torture cells came in front my eyes courtesy Wikileaks, a chill ran down my spine. Time ceased to flow, eyes transfixed. I was sent hurtling back into my teenage.
Militancy was touching ebb with sporadic instances here and there. I could go out and play out till 7 in the evening, which was a change. Our house was engulfed on three sides by BSF residing in abandoned houses left over after migration. It was 1998-99 perhaps. I still remember the first time, I had finished my meals and was about to slip into my bed when I heard sound of someone crying, calling out for help. First I thought its something in my mind. After repeated intervals, he would cry and scream loud. My family was watching TV in other room on other side of the house, so the screams were insulated by heavy curtains and walls in addition of the TV’s noise. I peeped out of the window, trying to figure out. It wasn’t in my wildest imagination that a torture cell would be set up there. I couldn't find anything. Scared, I went back with my parents. I wanted to but could not say anything. After some time, I along with my brother went back to the room. I tried to hear it, but there was nothing to be. I told myself, it was some crap in my mind. Didn't tell anyone that day. For a couple of days there was nothing, no screams, no sound. I forced myself to believe that it was something that my idle mind had cooked up. Overdose of horror novels perhaps. Days later, I heard the screams again. Brief intervals, screams would explode. I called up my mother and told her, by the time she came. It was dead silence again. She dismissed it outright. The next house is MI room, someone might be ill or something like that she said. I decided to check it out. Next day I went on , now, the haunted side of the house, evading the jawan standing guard on the bunker I peeped through the small window of the shed. A heater, a big Exide battery, a chair, that’s all I could see. I was convinced this was some kind of torture room alike Hindi movies. I told my mom about it. She again dismissed it saying it’s too many movies that I have been watching lately causing some kind of hangover. Until one day, when electricity was off. We were having food and suddenly the screams broke through the walls. This time it continued for a long time. No other sound, no other voice, repeated screams of a guy breaking silence of dead night, at intervals. I told my father about it, about the shed being converted into a torture cell. That night was horrifying. Till twelve I could feel the guy being subject to extreme torture. I could see humans turning monsters. It continued for a week or so. It was unbearable to say the least but the magnitude of horror goes beyond words, spare alone what the poor victims would have gone through.
My dad and one of our neighbors decided to lodge a request to the CO of that battalion citing humane grounds. He denied anything of that order, saying his stays on the other side of that house and he never heard anything. Ofcourse he was lying. But that had an effect. We didn’t hear anything after that day. The location was changed but torture continued. Some might argue terrorists should be treated like this. But everyone treated like this, is not terrorist. Took me some time but I recovered from the torrid experience and my mother could sleep peacefully after that, but same can't be said about all the mothers in my land...
Human Rights for decades have gone for a toss. The latest revelations by wikileaks just underline the existing. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah talks about zero tolerance on Human Rights but his DGP at the same time objects against complete implementation of RTI. J&K has been evading Supreme Court directives on police reform citing reasons as counter terrorism. Transparency Index puts the state as second most corrupt state in the country. A change is must.
Nothing is permanent and it will change, it has to. But it will leave scars on God knows how many generations. Time stands witness.