Anantnag, Mar 6: In January, Gulzar Ahmad Bhat, 65 hailing from Rakhi-Brah-Ranipora village of Shangus in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district took his wife for treatment to Amritsar for a medical ailment. They were also accompanied by younger daughter- Masrat Jan (21) and son, Iqbal Ahmad (26). Bhat’s wife, Zaina Begum (60) was suffering from paralysis and had been undergoing treatment for the past two years. As she had to go for regular medical check-ups, the family hired a room and stayed there.
However, Iqbal, a driver by profession, returned home after some time. Begum, meanwhile was recovering and the family decided to return home. His son, Iqbal rang up his father and told him he will be coming along with his cousin- Saqib also a driver by profession to pick them up from Amritsar. The duo reached there and on Saturday morning they left for home. As the family started their journey, a 70-year-old Muhamad Iqbal Chopan from Qazigund, a stranger to them was looking for a vehicle. He too had to return home. Bhat, a kind-hearted person, gave him a lift and he started traveling with them. However, as they reached near Jamoda, Mansar in Samba district, the car they were traveling in skidded off the road and fell into a deep gorge.
All four family members and Chopan died on the spot while Saqib- their relative from the same village was critically injured and is undergoing treatment at GMC Jammu. As soon as the news of their death poured in, the entire village went into mourning. Every eye was moist and women were wailing and beating their chests. However, somehow villagers mustered a bit of courage to console his two young sons- Ishfaq (24) and Yasir (22) who were the only ones at home. Bhat’s elder son, Mushtaq is married and lives separately. His two elder daughters are also married.
Every one in the village was out since morning waiting for bodies to arrive which finally reached home late at night. Not a single soul had slept by then. The villagers had made all arrangements for the last rites. Funeral prayers were offered in the dead of the night and all four family members were lowered in the graves one after another. “The tragedy that has befallen us can’t be expressed in words. It is like doomsdays in our village,” said Muneer Ahmad Khan, a neighbor amid hearts and sobs. He said the news came in as a state of shock for every villager. “The sons and daughters of Bhat are in complete disbelief. They haven’t uttered a word,” Khan said. The villagers, remember Bhat as a very helpful and pious man. “He would always be there for everyone in tough times,” said Imtiyaz Ahmad, another village Imtiyaz Ahmad. He said that he would also preach at the local mosque. “Iqbal was very hardworking, his sister Masrat, an innocent girl, and their mother –Zaina a strong woman who fought the protracted illness bravely,” Ahmad added.