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THERE IS ALWAYS A CHOICE


 

It was the midnight in the month of December; snow had annexed the streets and houses of Toshan village near the Line of Control. Darkness of the night and scary sounds of gunfire in distance were making it a haunting moment for nine year old Iqbal who was hiding beneath a wooden bed with his 10 year old cousin Abdul. Iqbal's Abba had ordered them not to come out, no matter what. Iqbal's father, Rashid somewhere knew the unwanted visitors from jungles had entered his village. His mind was full of fear and worry to safeguard his family. Barking of dogs and creepy noise of tree branches were adding more fear to the room's silence. Abdul knew that if he took any action it could harm his family but deep down his mind was telling him to take safeguard measures before it was too late. But it was too late. Before his frightened mind could take any decision, three militants broke in to the house. In the dim light of lantern, all three militants with their guns pointing towards Rashid's body paced ahead.


"Where are the kids?" Militant dressed in Phiran and Mask shouted.


Beneath the bed, Abdul and Iqbal were scared so badly that they grabbed each other's hands tightly. Tears of pain and fear rolled down through their eyes but they didn't make any noise in the hope of escaping abduction. One of the militants came closer to Rashid and put his rifle in the middle of Rashid's forehead. Fear ran down through his nerves and beads of sweat appeared on Rashid's face. Meanwhile two militants kept on thrashing Rashid, one of them started searching for the kids in the room. Beneath the bed, Iqbal was watching his Abbu who had fallen on the floor and was spitting blood. Little boy couldn't resist the pain anymore and came out shouting "leave my Abba alone". Both the kids were abducted before local police could reach the spot.


5 years passed since Iqbal and Abdul were brought to militant camp at an unknown location near LoC. Since then they have grown up fast in a harsh and unfavorable environment and their childhood ruined the moment they were taken away from their family. There is a certain routine followed by the militant camp administration to brainwash abducted children. Some religious preachers totally erase innocence of children by telling false stories about the country, government and Indian Army and thereby motivating them to harm and target Indian armed forces so that they can embrace heaven by becoming martyrs. Preachers used to threaten them not to disobey their supreme commander and not to steal anything in camp but somewhere Iqbal and Abdul knew that their preacher's teachings were in contrast to reality.


In the month of December when most of the India was gripped with winter, a spell of heavy snowfall was predicted in North Western Kashmir by weather department. On the night of 6th of December Major Salim got an input that 5 terrorists with heavy arms and ammunitions were about to enter India near Uri sector of Kashmir. Major Salim took charge and got his men ready for the mission. It was midnight around 1 am and snow was falling heavily. Iqbal was now 19 and commander of the group. While crossing the boundary Abdul was crawling just behind him with other three militants. On the other side Major Salim was taking position with his men in order to foil the infiltration.


"Iqbal...!"Abdul spoke in a gentle voice when they were crossing a tributary of river Jhelum.


"Han Abdul...!"Replied Iqbal in husky voice while fighting flow of icy water with rifle in hand and heavy bag full of ammunition on his back.


"Let's plan first...Which way we should go and attack them?" Asked Abdul.


"Listen...The plan is simple. We will keep our arms and ammunition near Dargah at the bank of river and will offer namaaz for our mission's success," ordered Iqbal.


Meanwhile Major Salim was ready in position to counter them near the woods of the Dargah.


Sound of running icy water was in the atmosphere. Abdul and Iqbal sat near bags full of ammunition while other three went to wash their hands in river.


It has been 10 years since we saw our family Iqbal.


"Yes I know and I also know that how much you are missing your mother." spoke Iqbal in a caring voice.


"Iqbal do you really think that we are going to do the right thing?" Whispered Abdul


"Surrendering ourselves to the Indian Army.... is the right thing to do." Iqbal spoke in low pitch while staring at the other three militants washing legs and hands in the river at a distance.


Abdul asked in completely perplexed low tone. "I know Abdul, you also want the same. Surrender... Because you know what our parents taught us and what these Bigots taught us in all these 10 years. We can't go against our parent’s teachings. We can't fight the soldiers defending our motherland."


Spoke Iqbal in deep voice with tears in eyes. "Yes you are right”.


And suddenly, they were surrounded by army soldiers while Maj Salim was on mic ordering them to raise their hands, before other three militants could load their rifles they were shot in legs by the soldiers. Abdul and Iqbal stood there raising their hands high and proving their identity while Army jawans were checking them.


“You must be Iqbal."


Asked Maj Salim after checking upon everything and reporting to the post on radio.


"Yes sir, I am Iqbal and this is my brother Abdul."




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