File photo of Nazir Ahmad Rather (KM/Special arrangement)

Srinagar: Tired of repeated closures and curfews, Nazir Ahmad Rather, a carpet-weaver, had left Kashmir five years ago to work for a handicrafts firm in Hyderabad. His mother, wife, four daughters and son stayed back in their home in Safa Kadal here as Nazir worked hard 2,400 kilometres away to meet the family’s needs.

On Friday, however, his battered body reached home 36 hours after he fell off a cliff on Srinagar-Jammu highway. He was on his way back to attend his eldest daughter’s marriage scheduled next month.

The tragedy occurred when the 52-year-old weaver, who had covered over 2400 kilometres from Hyderabad, got off the bus to relieve himself at Khooni Nala in Ramban on the evening of Wednesday, May 20.

As per eyewitnesses, he slipped and fell in the deep gorge. It took the rescue team at Ramban some hours to recover the body.

“He seemed tired when we last spoke to him. Probably he hadn’t eaten for days. We later heard from his fellow passengers that when he de-boarded the bus, he went away from the gaze of his fellow passengers to relieve himself when the incident occurred,” said Adnan Nazir, his 20-year-old son and the youngest of the five siblings.

“His co-passengers say he didn’t return and when they went to check on him, he was missing,” he said.

Back home, the family had no clue of the tragedy that had struck them as they were busy in prayers during Shab-e-Qadr, the holiest night in Ramadan.

“Our entire locality had come to know about it except us. At around dawn, we were informed of it,” said Adnan.

Landslides on the Srinagar-Jammu highway (Photo courtesy: KashmirLife)

For the next two days, the family tried every possible way to get the body back but as fate would have it, there were massive landslides on the highway clogging it completely.

“We spoke to higher officials and requested if the body could be air-lifted but they said there was no option but to wait for the road to the cleared,” he said.

Finally, the road was cleared on Friday morning and the family received the body in Srinagar in the afternoon.

Soon after, Nazir was buried in his ancestral graveyard in Safa Kadal here.

Adnan awaiting his father’s body for the burial on Friday, May 22, 2020 (KM/Umar Ganie)

According to his employer in Hyderabad, Nazir was the “best carpet weaver.”

“He was the best carpet weaver in Kashmir. He was working with us for over five years and used to go home only once or twice a year during his holidays,” said Imran Khan, a Srinagar born businessman who runs his Kashmir Handicrafts firm in Hyderabad.

“He was like a family. Whatever I could do, I will to help the family,” Imran said.   

A neighbour of the deceased said the family was living hand-to-mouth and Nazir’s death, a huge emotional trauma, was also a great financial setback for the family.

“He worked hard to meet the family’s needs and the education of his children. But now they have been left helpless,” the neighbour said.

As per him, Adnan has a heart condition after he met with an accident during his childhood.

“This was the first marriage in the family and the tragedy has just shattered them,” the neighbour added.

Burial of Nazir Ahmad Rather on the afternoon of Friday May 22, 2020 (Photo KM:Umar Ganie)

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About the Author

A journalist by chance with over five years of experience in reporting, editing, and bucketing local, national and international content for my current organization. I have covered education, health, politics, and human rights. I like working for a daily, though I occasionally try my pen in long-form to connect personal narratives with history.

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