It is my second winter in the valley, my home. Holding the Kangri in my hand sitting with my loved ones. What a precious moment. The opportunity to be with my family once again to sit below the Chinar tree to see my children grow. I never thought that I will be able to return to a normal life of love and care again. I stayed on the wrong path being influenced by some local political and religious heads. Peer pressure added a push. The social and economic conditions these people create brainwashing youths like me to follow the worthless path of Jihad that these people choose for us. Maybe we are also equally responsible to listen to their false propaganda.
My name is Bilal and I signed up for ‘Jihad’. I don’t want to be among the names and photographs of dead people I know. Some whom I knew from childhood and some whom I met when training across the border. I was fortunate that I realized the nefarious plans of Pakistan which threw us on paths that destroyed not only our lives but also our families. Today when I sit looking out the window of my house, I realise how foolish I was to be played at the hands of these people. The destruction of my youth started from the path which used to take me to the Masjid of my village. Initially, everything was fine but slowly Khuda ka Ghar became a place of Sermon for religious brainwashing centre for youths. Instead of reciting the Koran and understanding the path of peace our young curious minds were diverted toward false propaganda. Showing India as an enemy and the army our arch enemies our young minds were instilled with the idea of hating them. The seeds of hatred were sown by speeches where we were told that we are specifically targeted and the government wants to finish us. Our women are in danger in hands of this Kafirs. In order to protect our women their self-respect and our own dignity, we have to answer them with violence. We need to take up arms and target each and every man women in Uniform. We have to make sure that we mercilessly suppress and torture any support that they have among people. False stories of how our innocent brothers were killed and tortured were told to us to make our blood boil. The Glamour in taking up arms and how young women from the village will be attracted to us was one of the other tactics used by them.
Time and again they used to fuel the feeling of hatred with stories of violence torture rape to fog our minds into believing that these things are actually happening. We are victims. We were brainwashed to such an extended then other than feeling of hatred there was nothing left in us. The seeds of Jihad were sown from here where it was said that it was Allah’s work that we were doing and we will be granted Jannat. We will be Shaheed for the cause of Azzadi. Now I repent and think if I would have kept the hatred aside and given a thought carefully life would have been different for me and my family. I crossed over to POK and had training in arms ammunitions, making of IEDs. After 1 year of training when the commander of the militant outfit was satisfied that I am ready. I was asked to enter Kashmir. I was given the task of destroying a CRPF bunker. We had the local support of some of the villagers and thus after a year I was back to destroy my own birth land. We were a group of 4 people who entered from the dense jungles of Hajipir mountains from the Handwara side entering through Rajasthani Forest. Our local contact met us there and we were taken to a house to hide. We revised the plan as to when and where to strike. Our local contact has done the Recee which was a big help. In the month of November when snow had just started, I did the 1st attack of my life. There was lots of resistance from the troops and they were not easily giving up. We were finding it difficult to complete our mission. We thought maybe we should move back but then 1 of the person from our group started lobbying grenades after grenades destroying the bunker. After tasting our 1st success, we went back to POK. We were full of admiration for ourselves that we have contributed to jihad we have taken revenge for the loss of lives of our brothers.
Months went by and I was part of several groups that targeted security forces. I started enjoying the killings. At times we were at the upper hand and sometimes we had to run for our lives. Then the day came that changed my life forever. We were told to target an Army camp and since now I was the apple of the eye of the commander I was given the responsibility to lead. We had planned around 2 months before the D Day. Entry-exit route vehicles logistics everything was planned. Our local support and others everyone were delegated work and we moved according to the plan.
On the day we had to hit the Army camp I felt unwell still I went ahead with the plan. We had made 2 groups to maximize the damage to the camp. We entered through the back route of the camp which was covered with dense jungles. But before we could understand there was a volley of bullets fired. The alert sentry at the post detected the movement of the 1st group. A fierce gunfight took place for nearly 3 hours. The second group attacked from a different point. We had turned into robots and just wanted to kill everyone. From a distance, I heard a whizz, and 1 of the bullet pierce my shoulder and I fell down. I was struggling to get a safer place in between the exchange of gunfire but was finding it difficult. I was shouting to my other comrades to help me but in vain before I knew all of them had run away leaving me bleeding at the hands of the mercy of those whom we came to kill. At that moment between life and death, I understood what the wrong path I had chosen. I thought this is my end and I cannot change what I had done but at least I can apologize may be upar wala mere gunhaoo ke liye thodi se rehemat aur mafi baksh de muje. Just before closing my eyes and feeling unconscious I just remembered a few words that I uttered Maaf kardena muje Jeena hai. When I opened my eyes, I was in the hospital, and looking around I saw a few men in uniform. That day my eyes opened to a new world of love care and forgiveness. I soon realized that I was saved by the same men I had gone to kill. I had tears rolling down my eyes. Doctors came to check up on me and then I saw the face of the angel who had saved my life. He was the same officer who I saw before getting unconscious. I was an ‘A’category militant with a bounty on my head. Killing me would have brought laurels to the officer and the unit. The officer chose humanity and forgiveness. He didn’t think the medal was worth killing an unarmed injured person who was asking for his mercy and forgiveness. I fell on the feet of the officer and was inconsolable.
Today I remember the words of the officer who changed my life. He said Bilal this is your second life. I know you have done a lot of wrong things and you will be punished for it. The day you fell unconscious at my feet asking for forgiveness I saw a human being in you who was repenting his mistake. I felt it was my duty to give you a second chance. You are a well-educated person. Use your expertise in making a difference in the lives of youth here. Guide them and show them the right path. The mistake you had done in the past doesn’t let the youth of today repeat the same. You have been there and seen all how you were used. When their work was done, they didn’t care if you live or die. Allah has given you an opportunity to make use of it. Jihad is not spreading violence and hatred and killing people. It’s making yourself better by demolishing all bad vices and spreading peace and love among everyone. Its true meaning is helping people by guiding them on the right path. That day I understood the true meaning of the word. Before leaving the officer said Bilal we are the Indian Army we will punish you for your wrong doings but at the same time when you surrender we will give you 1 more chance. Keep in mind this chance is given in good faith the day you even think of going on that path again I will be the first person to shoot you. Never forget this.
I served my time in prison and now
have become a reformed man. I teach at a local school and motivates youngster towards getting better education and making a career for themselves. I give them my example of how I wandered on the wrong path aimlessly and how a messiah saved me and gave new
meaning to life. I’m content with this life now. God has chosen me to spread happiness and guide people from not going towards the wrong path
I am Bilal and my Jihad is not against India but it is against people who want to divide us. It’s against the false propaganda spread by people who safely sit in their palatial houses. Their kids enjoy the best comforts of good life higher education and a sparkling career. I am the light who wants to ignite the junoon of education, love, peace, and a better life for my young brethren of Kashmir.
24 Aug 22/Wednesday Source: brighterkashmir