That all the four kidnappers and killers of his son have been killed by the security forces is little consolation for 56-year-old Manzoor Ahmad Wagay, who is still digging up mother earth just to find the last resting place of his son, Shakir Manzoor.
Shakir was a soldier of the Territorial Army, who belonged to the Harmain village of Shopian district. He had been travelling in his car to join duty when four militants kidnapped him on August 2, 2020.
The kidnappers showed one courtesy, they allowed Shakir to speak to his family one last time, before snuffing the life out of him.
Shakir told his family not to disclose 'the phone call' to the army since he was with some of his 'friends' who would not harm him.
The last message of Shakir to his family was obviously tutored.
In less than 24 hours, Shakir's burnt car and blood stained clothes were found in the nearby Kulgam district. The killers had denied the soldier even a decent burial!
They had killed him and thrown his body somewhere it could not be found.
However, his father believes that he is somewhere amid the valley -- 6-feet below.
Wagay has been digging all over the place to find his son's body for the last eight months. He carries a shovel and a spade everywhere.
Sympathetic fellow villagers accompany the father with shovels and spades to help find his son's grave.
"I hope to find his body one day. My niece saw Shakir in her dream. She told me he had communicated to her that his body had been buried near the place his blood stained clothes were found.
"I have tried there as well," the father tells his unending tragedy even after all his tears have dried up.
Police cannot declare Shakir dead unless his body is found.
"For us, legally, he is missing. Although we are personally convinced that he is not alive," said a police officer.
Bodies of militants killed in encounters with the security forces have been denied to the families since the spread of the pandemic.
Other reasons are to prevent funeral processions that are often seen as recruiting exercises for the militants.
Through fiery speeches, militant commanders have been stirring passions at these funerals to lure the local youth.
The killers of Shakir did not return his body to keep the wounds of his father and family festering forever.
Kashmir has become a killing field where the killers follow no rules.
The blood soaked, listless eyes of Shakir's father did not move his son's killers when they were alive. After their death, they can tell no secrets.
( 460 Words)