On the night of August 4, Abrar Ganie, 16, was reading Keki N Daruwalla’s ‘Love Across the Salt Desert’ - a story of five young boys released by a juvenile court after being arrested over a year ago for illegally crossing the border into India from neighbouring Pakistan.
The book forms part of Ganie’s English syllabus prescribed by education department for class 12th. Ganie was reading the book to prepare for his upcoming annual examination.
Beside him, his mother, Shakeela, was awake to ensure her son did not fall asleep and partly to make him feel secure. Late night raids and patrolling by Indian armed forces in civilian areas had picked up and rumour-mongering that something unusual would happen was rife.
Fear of the armed forces had muzzled the entire village of Hugam in Anantnag district, nearly 60 km south of capital city Srinagar. The hooting of owls and barking of street dogs send shivers down the spine of villagers who are awake, instilling fear that the men in uniform have arrived.
The eerie silence of the nondescript village of Hugam was broken by the thud of jackboots of the Indian armed forces marching along the dirt alleys.
Shakeela whispered into her son’s ears to turn off the lights, as unrelenting dog barks became intense.
The armed men cordoned off the neighborhood and nearly one dozen of them entered the Ganies’ courtyard...