Author: Saadut
•11:22 PM

The wedding of Ashok Jaitley’s daughter was held in March 2001 (I think 30th) at Kashmir house, which he got specially prepared for this wedding. Aditi Jaitely was the daughter of Ashok and Jaya Jaitley, who had got divorced in 80’s. Jaya later became associated with Samta Party of Geoege Fernandes, also working with marginal artisans and workers at the grassroots level. Aditi was to marry cricketer Ajay Jadeja, who had been earlier disgraced in a match fixing scandal.

I knew George Fernandes from my early students union days (90’s) and later briefly during my engineering days. Many a time when I would return on holidays to India (and Kashmir) I would be invited to small talks at 3 K.M Marg, where I was called the ‘algaav’vaadi’. Those days I found Geroge Fernandes was one of the few people who wished to get Kashmir resolved, but somehow the political combinations of New Delhi would not allow him to exercise as he wished (at least that is the impression I carried).
In later years, during one such talk Jaya told me about the marriage of her daughter and informally invited me, but I never attended it. Many months (don’t remember how many, or was it years after) after the marriage, this was told to me:

‘The young couple had been invited by Ashok Jaitely to visit Kashmir and stayed at the renovated Papa 2 (now Fairview) residence of the then Chief Secretary (Aditi’s father). Early next morning, after the couple had stayed there, they (especially the groom) reported hearing shrieks and strange cries during the night. Cries of someone in extreme pain, someone crying for life. The period they stayed there, the same cries kept repeating.’ 
Ashok Jaitley was earlier known to have performed some rituals and rites to exorcise the new premises before moving in.

Kashmiris knew this place as one of the many torture centres that consumed many innocents during the turmoil of 90’s. Many of the other interrogation and torture centres were also housed in homes of migrant Pandits, occupied by Indian forces at various locations, where local youngsters would be subject to terrible torture, some of them never returned home.

The place my family lives now in was once a part of a large orchard, occupied by Indian militaries (anti insurgency unit), know for its brutal methods locally. In later years by the end of 90’s they had shifted from here. And it was then that my family purchased part of this orchard, unknown to us its old tales. When we started constructing the new house, there were these big walnut trees on the farthest eastern corner of the orchard. In the winter of our first year, when construction started for the new house, right after autumn had stripped these large tress of all its green, I one day noticed three large iron hangers, looking like broken ‘T’ shaped nails on the largest of these walnut trees, which stood in the centre and under which was once presumably was pitched a fortified enclosure of Indian militaries. It was in mid winter that two local boys, who worked a labourers on our construction site, told me that this was where many locals had been once tortured and often hung upside down on ropes, by these armed militaries. For the next two years that our construction continued we would fear to stray near these walnut trees till late. Much before we started living in the new place these walnut trees had been infected with moth like worms, eating them from inside, as if stuck by some ‘post traumatic stress’ internally. Later even though their new owners felled these trees, I sometimes remember hearing hurried steps in the distance of a silent night. Those few nights were terrible, in that, I would imagine voices of distress from a distance but would be unable to tell about these events to my family. In later years, those voices stopped, as the human complacency tried to cloak all our memories of a painful past, a past that continues to live within us.

All `of these centers, erstwhile fortifications and the unknown existing, must have their own stories of pain and night rendezvous; endings we may never know of. The blank of what happened to all those thousands of young men will stare us in the face forever.

Lahoo naa ho' tou kalaam tar'jumaan nahee hotaa,
Harare dour mai'n aan'suun zubaa'n nahee hotaa.

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