“We were in dungeons being tortured day and night, till we lost our senses and forgot our identity. As as a result of the public demonstrations, our cases opened and we were taken to jail; after 3 and half years we saw sun light and breathed fresh air .”
The fight becomes tough for my familyWritten by Amina Masood Janjua Friday, 08 October 2010
Cageprisoners exclusive – Amina Masood Janjua speaks of her plight.
As the fight for release of my illegally detained husband grew tougher and tougher so was my pocket becoming emptier and emptier .May be it was created deliberately by the government to squeeze me financially. Last 5 years 2 months 8 days to be exact since when my life took 180 degree turn on 30th July 2005, were based on tireless struggles non-stop running from pillar to post, sleepless nights and heart piercing grief.
Masood my loving husband is a famous educator and businessman of Rawalpindi and Islamabad .He was honest, hardworking , enthusiastic, charismatic ,competent and extremely loving and caring .We got married in 1989 and life was heavenly happy for us .We were blessed with two boys and an adorable daughter. For his children, Masood was extraordinary friendly ,loving and caring . He would play wrestling with boys and dolls with the little doll of ours. Life unfolded beautifully before us and we realized that we were more and more in love with each other.
There was hardly any spare time with Masood as he was running three institutions and a social welfare hospital for the poor .Rest of the time was dedicated to his aging parents and family he loved dearly. Masood made it a point to spend some time every now and then, relaxing in hilly scenic areas where we enjoyed barbeques, fishing and camping at our leisure.
I remember the time of Masood's disappearance with a shudder , recalling how I was helplessly lying on bed for 3 months crying in a deep shock and depression. All the while my innocent children Muhammad (14), Ali (12) and Aishah (8), were sunk in a sea of shock, lost in a world of their own, their eyes desperately searching for Abbu (father) and Ammi (mother) both.
I pulled myself with a determination never to give up and to bring my loved one home- to bring back the same old golden days of our union when life was joy and fun and nothing else mattered. For the comfort of my children , I stretched over myself a confident smile."I will bring your Abbu to you" I promised to them.
After that how could I rest or slow down, I only knew one thing and that is “struggle to find Masood” as our most vital head of the family and our most precious loved-one was brutally snatched away from me and my children. This was confirmed that agencies have taken him, when Dr Imran Muneer a key witness of seeing my husband in illegal detention gave his statement in 2007.
By the end of 2007 , there were a hundred of families of 'Missing Persons' which I registered , I had to raise a voice for their grievance, protest for them , file their cases in the Supreme Court, and most importantly be like a mentor to them guiding , counseling and motivating them never to lose heart or give up hope.
Protests, seminars ,walks and rallies bombarded the newspapers and electronic media and our movement was making the headlines. Even during the judicial crises we were part and parcel of the lawyers long march joining their struggle shoulder to shoulder. Just to get the rule of law and Justice back on its heels, we gave every sacrifice.
The Judicial Crises
Facing a wall, frantically I started protesting in front of the Parliament House in Sep, 2006. At first there was the family of Masood Janjua only but within a short time we were joined by other families whose loved ones had also disappeared and they were also equally aggrieved and denied of justice. We started calling this network of victim families ; “Defence of Human Rights”
We were lucky enough that Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had already taken notice of Masood’s abduction. The case was at its peak and about to be resolved with the appearance of Dr Imran but unfortunately judicial crises engulfed the country after the unconstitutional Emergency of 3rd Nov 2007. My network of aggrieved and helpless victim families was the worst sufferers of this emergency-cum-martial law. High hopes were dashed away and so were the means of living, most of us having severe financial problems, so much so that even the basic necessities of life were hard to meet.
The 16th of March 2009, dawned with renewal of hopes for all the victim families of the enforced disappearances as pre-November 3rd the judiciary was restored by the executive order of the Prime Minister, but unfortunately the joy was short lived . I was confident that the issue of Missing Persons would be the first one picked up by the Chief Justice and restored the judiciary,but every attempt at persuasion, talks and efforts failed in getting the cases of the disappeared fixed in the Supreme court. Till finally the families of disappeared had to camp 12 days and nights outside the Supreme Court in protest. The cases were finally fixed on 23rd Nov 2009, at last our sacrifices and steadfastness bore fruit.
I only call it Allah’s will that our trial was not yet over .The cases of disappeared were disappeared from the Supreme Court without achieving any breakthrough, in May 2010, to sideline the issue .
A Commission of Inquiry for the Enforced disappeared was formed by the government to take away the focus of media and judiciary from this extremely sensitive issue and the worst violation of basic fundamental human rights. We came to know only after 4 months ended that it cannot order to produce the abductees nor order any compensation to address the financial agonies of the families. It was criminal negligence and impunity exercised in its worst form on the part of the Government .There is yet hope and faith to rely on .May be some day the state’s lost conscience would be shaken and speedy justice would be delivered to the poor, forsaken and aggrieved of this nation. Whatever happened up till now may be an honest effort but what’s the point when the government’s agencies themselves are into picking up honorable citizens from their homes etc and they themselves are searching for those abducted, instead of putting an end to this practice once and for all. It all seems like a cruel joke to befool the aggrieved, alas!
Roller coaster of Emotions
Throughout this roller coaster of emotions and events, hopes high & hopes dashed, there was one element of solace and contentment: those getting released due to our hue and cry, protest and legal pressure. Mashallah, 332 detainees were traced and released during the last 5 years of our struggle. The wife of one of ex-detainee brought salaams & prayers from her husband. She was full of praise for our movement told us that Aslam, her husband, narrated the following:
It was made possible only because of the pressure built by the tireless protest demonstration, sit-ins and rallies. Aslam also said that he was delighted to know after being shifted in jail that women, children, the old and the young are raising voice for their release. It is amazing how Allah is making the weak and oppressed powerful and the voiceless-heard. Allah (swt) has his own ways of making things work out for his dear ones.
Many detainees were also reported as saying if the movement of Missing Persons is going on then we will also see the sun some day. If Allah (swt) has made us a ray of hope for those dumped in dark underground torture cells what else can be a bigger honour than this?
My Family’s Ordeal
Out of all the three kids Aishah was Masood’s favourite, being the youngest dolly we had .For months and years after Masood’s disappearance, I found her weeping behind a door or on the bed even at times lying on the floor. There was always Masood’s picture under her pillow and her bedroom door was full of pictures of children with Masood .I did everything I could for her solace peace and comfort but I know the void of a loving father’s absence …a very strong sense of deprivation, the longing for his pampering care and love was always hurting Aishah. Her frustration and anger at my struggle bearing no result as far as her Abbu was concerned – the unparalleled grief and pain of all that – I could not take away from her.
Especially this Ramadan all of us were extremely melancholic, each one of us desperately missed Masood and. remembered his jolly and gleaming nature, his jokes, his enthusiasm, his extraordinary love and care. His loud vibrant voice was a louder noise in our home than any of the naughty kids. My boys would escape from going to masjid but now they miss those days when their Abbu would take them for prayers in Ramadan. No matter how well I looked after my kids , I knew in my heart that I can never be like Masood who was an “Ideal Hero”, who played football, took them for adventures, wrestled, played dolls and would be a closest best friend and father at the same time.
Masood loved the environment in Ramadan, his favorite things were jalebee and fruit-chat in Iftar and meat or rice in dinner. I made it sure that everything he wished for is piled up on the table. Eid was a special fun too, secretly we would buy presents, toys and gifts for all the children and family, pack it and hide it in the cupboard on the Eid eve. The next morning would come with joyous screams of our kids excited to get the gifts. Something happened on Eid day, thank God not to any of my kids it happened to me. I locked myself in the wash room to avoid my kids and wept and wept -----shouting and yelling in my heart; “O.Allah when will you return me my love ! My Masood! when O Allah when!!!!!!! I can’t take it any more ---- O-please my Lord have mercy I am weak…I can’t stand up to your trial ….my kids are also weak! “
The fight and financial crises getting tough
The scenario for Masood’s case became grim and the fight tough as the Joint Investigation team deputed for him gave its final report on 2nd Oct 2010, saying; “Masood is not with any of the agencies.” There is categorical denial, brutal lies in the face of too many evidences, injustice and torture to the whole family. Furthermore to make the going too tough for me there was financial crises hovering over for the last many years. I had already trained myself to save every penny in order to run the course no matter what. I helped the poor deserving families whose bread-winners were picked up and they were left devastated without any means of living at all. I knew their pain and suffering too well and that is why, out of my extreme passion, I could do anything for them
I literally drained all my resources and bank balance Masood had left, for the sake of this cause and to help those in need. That is also one of the reasons why college suffered heavy losses and I am almost penniless today. But there are no regrets for those whose most precious loved ones are taken away, money and all the precious belongings of this world are nothing for them. As far as my family’s survival is concerned ,we depended on this computer college of Masood. It suffered over the years of turmoil, struggle and hardships and was under debt due to mounting losses till finally it was locked on 29th Sep on account of one year rent not paid. On 4th Oct after taking the stay order from the court, we opened the college and I was pondering over all the more grim situation sinking in my office chair. Fighting becoming tough. Pressure becoming more than I can stand. Three children in their teens to be educated, groomed and properly fed and clothed; old and aging parents-in-law to be taken care of, home, kitchen, bills, car, fuel, maintenance, college bills, salaries and rent!
Every thought kept hammering on my head…And the foremost of course: the “Missing person’s” cause. It has to continue even if I have nothing left and I am sitting on the road with my kids. Thoughts, thoughts and thoughts kept emerging from all directions. It was third day of my migraine becoming severe, blood pressure rising alarmingly and now it was impossible to breath. As tension mounted asthma in my chest and ulcers in my stomach always escalate. For months I haven’t seen a doctor. A voice from inside said I was sinking….time and again I was fighting back tears which over brimmed my eyes. I was hiding my tears and paranoia from the college staff .I can’t show them that the 'Leader of the Aggrieved' is weak . A peon took a cheque for a salary, it was bounced. “There are no 5000 Rs. in your account madam!” Ok I wrote another one of Rs 3000/- to my amazement it bounced too .I didn’t dare to write a third one. Hiding my embarrassment I told him smiling I’ll take it out from the other bank tomorrow. By 3 pm I was emotionally drained and starving. To restore my energies I wanted to give the peon 24 Rs for tea & biscuits I kept digging in my bag for almost half an hour and was delighted to hand him over all the coins I found.
Please don’t feel any pity , as I am truly and rightly proud of whatever I did, in spite of whatever happened to me and my kids. How courageously we fought the battle for the release of Masood and all the Missing loved ones without any resources was amazing and a legendary achievement. The answer to my acute distress, I found the same day in the evening. After Maghreb prayer I prayed to my Creator earnestly, I asked my Lord for Mercy, Forgiveness, Guidance and Help. I asked for un-matched courage and determination to go on fighting and never to give up. I thanked Him for the love and respect He had given me, for the honor of taking the impossible tasks from me .All of a sudden my heart was full of peace , contentment, gratitude and thanksgiving in the same way as my eyes were full of tears in the morning.
So there is the answer to the biggest problems and difficulties, grief and sufferings of life…..Bow down before the Lord and ask Him! He will answer and never let us fall astray inshallah, He will never waste our struggles.
We are not yet united with Masood but we are determined to continue the struggle, to work even harder, not to give up on any front, we are confident having a firm belief that the blissful day of our Reunion is not far.
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