A Memory Of An Extinguished Life

  • Adil Farooq
  • Publish Date: May 14 2018 1:23AM
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  • Updated Date: May 14 2018 1:23AM
A Memory Of An Extinguished Life

I spent a few moments with the slain militant Zubair Turray in jail and it is a lasting memory.



Exactly how much time passes from the moment a man is wounded until he starts to feel pain?

Sometimes it’s second.

Sometimes it’s an hour.

Sometimes it’s more than an eternity.

Artyom Borovik, 

The Hidden War


It was a rainy Spring afternoon in 2017. The sky was enveloped in a sad haze and everything looked as if the darkness of the night had snatched the innocence of the day. My friend and I were in Sub Jail, Counter Intelligence Kashmir, Humhama – wrongfully held under the charge of aiding militants – and were busy talking about our detention and torture at various police stations when the sentry opened the main gate, letting in a young man with a broad smile. He introduced himself as Zubair Ahmad Turray from Shopian.

In the few hours we spent together in the Sub Jail I got to know Zubair as a kind person. The moment he arrived, he offered us a packet of biscuits he had brought along. After learning the concocted reason for our detention, he asked, “You people are in good physical condition. Haven’t they tortured you yet?” His tone said it all, he had suffered it himself. 

Then, we asked about him. He took a deep breath and started speaking in a soft but heavy voice: “I was freed from Srinagar Central Jail a couple of days ago following an unexpected order from home ministry quashing my fifth Public Safety Act. When I reached the main gate of the jail, the CIK people were waiting to take me into custody. I promised them I will present myself at CIK after two days. They agreed and now here I am.” 

Zubair had suffered torture during each of his detentions, and even afterwards at the hands of the police. But what saddened him more was that his father had been made to run around to get his son freed. Zubair was finishing his story when the SHO arrived to question him. It was a conversation that I will never forget. The SHO had barely started talking when Zubair shot back. “You have ruined my life,” he said. “I pray to almighty Allah that he make me such an example that you will never do to anybody else what you have done to me.” 

I was startled by his courage and told him as much when he came back to us. “Be brave and tell them everything to their faces. They will anyway do whatever they want and soft words aren’t going to save anybody,” he responded, offering advice. 

After speaking to us for a few minutes, he stood up and called Azaan for Asr prayers. I could sense pain in his voice. He led the prayers and made dua for all the world’s oppressed Muslims, weeping audibly. By then a police vehicle from Shopian had arrived to take Zubair away. “They have prepared another dossier to book me under PSA once again,” he remarked as he bid us goodbye. “Jail has eaten me out but it is enough now.” 

A month later, my friend and I were released on bail by the district sessions court in Pulwama. My friend has since completed his law degree and, as a lawyer, is helping prisoners like Zubair. I decided to study journalism to, I hope, give voice to the voiceless and the oppressed. 

Zubair chose a different path. He escaped from the Shopian jail within weeks of being taken there and picked up the gun. About a year later, on April 1, 2018, he laid down his life for his cause, along with eight comrades. A sea of people turned out to mourn him, only to be met with bullets from the government forces. As Zubair had said, “They will do whatever they want.”