17-yr-old went missing on his way to school
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AT FIRST, Arshad Muneer's family did not even know had he had disappeared on his way to Srinagar from his village in Kulgam. For them, Arshad was attending school in Srinagar.
This was 2003 and like many other parents, Arshad's parents also do not know who picked him up or what happened to him. But the search for him is still on.
On the morning of September 27 that year, the family says Arshad, then 17, left home, Village Mohammadpora in Kulgam, for school, around 55 km away in Srinagar. He did not reach school nor did he return home. On the fourth day, panic gripped Arshad's family members when they got to know he hadn't reached school.
His father, Abdul Hamid Itoo, says: "We started searching for him the very next day. We went to all his friends' and relatives places. Then we started looking for him in every village and town of the valley. But all in vain". The family says ultimately, it approached police and administration. "They too did not help," says Itoo.
He says they also approached the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) but that too did not yield success.
For the first three years, he says they were hopeful of Arshad's return. But after the fake encounter expose, he says their hope is slowly fading. And for a reason. When Arshad went missing, Superintendent of Police (SP), Kulgam was Hans Raj Parihar, who is an accused in the Ganderbal fake encounters case.
"We are not even sure whether he is alive or dead," he says.