‘Trying to Find My Son or His Body’: Kashmiri Man Digs Villages

In hope of finding his missing son’s body, a Kashmir father has been digging village after village for nine months.

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Producer: Asmita Nandy
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“I have been looking for my missing son's corpse every single day for the last eight to nine months,” Manzoor Ahmad Wagay, a farmer in Kashmir’s Shopian, broke down as he recalled the day when his son went missing.

Wagay last saw his son, Shakir Manzoor, who worked with the Territorial Army, on Eid 2020.

“He had come home around 11 AM on 2 August 2020 for Eid but had to report back to his duty by 6 pm. That was the last time I saw him. At 9 pm, his burned car was found in the nearby district of Kulgam. We thought we’ll find his body somewhere nearby but there was nothing. On the third day, a farmer informed me that my son was being beaten up in his orchard. When I went there, I found his blood and torn clothes.”
Manzoor Ahmad Wagay

Since then, Wagay and some of his neighbours often go on a search with their shovel, digging up land in hope of at least finding his son’s body.

Wagay’s younger son, Shaan, who had dropped out of college after the incident, said, “On 20 March, the DCP said he might have been dumped in a canal. We searched the entire canal but did not find his body. We go there every day in hope that we might find his body somewhere. But we are unable to trace his corpse.”

Shakir’s mother, who often starts wailing, said she chants a prayer everyday that her son would return. “If not, at least help us find his body.”

“Till I am breathing, till I have strength in my body, I will keep searching for my son,” Wagay says, as he asks the government to attribute a martyr status to his son.

“He joined the Army because of his family’s conditions. Now, if he was killed by militants, he should be given the status of a martyr, but the government is not listening to us,” he added.

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