The True Heroes of Kashmir
How does one facilitate a young man who gave up his life to save the lives of others? Can we ever thank or reward the person who has passed beyond all worldly wants? Perhaps the only way we can honour him is by remembering his selfless deed and preaching the message of humanity his actions illustrated.
Rouf Ahmad Dar, a 32-year-old professional rafter and tourist guide, sacrificed his life on 31 May to save the lives of five tourists after their raft had capsized along the Lidder River in South Kashmir’s Pahalgam.
The incident happened in the evening at about 7 pm when Dar noticed that the tourists seemed trapped and unable to get out of the river. He dived in and pulled them to safety but hilmself was swept away in the end. His body was found next morning by the State Disaster Response Force, local police and volunteers; he had died of drowning.
Deputy Commissioner (Anantnag) Khalid Jehangir pointed out rightly that "It was an actual demonstration of Kashmiriyat, which teaches love brotherhood and care, displayed by Dar, who successfully saved five people including two domestic tourists, in the true spirit of trademark Kashmiri hospitality."
While the local administration announced an ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh for his family, the Jammu and Kashmir Governor, Satya Pal Malik, announced a further compensation of Rs 5 lakh, calling him a real-life hero who 'sacrificed his life for saving the lives of others'. Dar was working to finish his Master’s Degree in Political Science from the Indira Gandhi National Open University and had a bright future before him. In his death, he showed what a true Kashmiri is capable of despite all the calumny attached to them in recent times.
Another modern day hero is the first lady from Kashmir to conquer Mount Everest. On 22nd May this year, Nahida Manzoor became the first woman from the Kashmir valley to scale the highest peak in the world - Mount Everest. A rare feat for any woman especially from the Kashmir Valley which is seeing so much unrest and where people can hardly aspire to such great endeavours. Her success has given hope to thousands of others who now believe that if they wish they can achieve anything even climb the world's tallest mountain.
Ms Nahida told Greater Kashmir: "When I started there were hardly any women who went for the expeditions, trekking and not to think about undertaking training courses in mountaineering. Now the things have changed and I am seeing more and more girls joining adventure sport."
Ms Nahida hails from Srinagar’s Zewan area and is the daughter of an ordinary shopkeeper. Whatever her situation, she had a big dream. She loved mountains and had claimbed several peaks including Mt Deo Tibba (6001m) in Himachal Pradesh, Friendship Peak (5289m) in Himachal Pradesh and Tatakooti Peak (4725m) in Jammu & Kashmir. To conquer Everest, she started an online campaign in March to raise Rs 30 lakh for her expedition. People donated generously and allowed her to fulfil her dream. Bravo Kashmir!
The, I cannot but include the excellent young men who constituite Kashmir's best Football team - Real Kashmir Football Club. These fine young men have made all Kashmiris proud by their pioneering efforts in the field where they have in a short time managed to be recognised as one of the country's best team and players. They have already defeated some of the best Indian teams and have shown the way to the pinnacle of achievement in sports. They continue to inspire us and thousands of other youngsters.
We tend to make heroes of the people associated with violence in Kashmir. Perhaps it would be better if we learnt to look up to those individuals who instead of spreading death, sadness and despair, lead us to the light of hope, shine the beacon of humanity and lead us to more cheerful pastures.
4 June 2019
Last updated: 23 April 2019