Losing a journalist friend

Senior journalist, and my colleague, Muddasir Ali’s sudden demise has left all our fraternity in shock, here in Jammu. Losing a close friend, and one of the finest professional journalists with whom we worked, is not only a personal emotive setback, but a greater loss for the society. Muddasir is the second journalist friend I lost in this shocking way, first being Javed Ahmed of Rising Kashmir, a young and humble journalist., who also died of a heart attack.

Journalism is not just a job, it is passion. Journalists face serious challenges when it comes to reporting. However, Muddasir Ali did unbiased reporting for Greater Kashmir, as well as for The Wire, from Kashmir covering. He also covered Jammu.

Many times, I would would get calls from Muddasir for stories from Jammu. The way Muddasir wrote his stories always attracted me. One such examples was a story on the horrific experience of the tribal community of Jora Form. Several years back, Jora Form in RS Pura along Indo-Pak border was shelled with mortars from other side, compelling many tribal families to abandon their burnt homes and take shelter in the adjoining safer places. Muddasir had specially arrived in Jammu, and I had accompanied him for the entire day to cover the story.

Not more than two weeks back, I had a discussion with him regarding a story he was doing. I had never thought, he would leave us this way. He would always make suggestions to improve my stories. This was not the age for him to leave. He was not only a friend, but a guide for me. He encouraged me on stories and often appreciated stories from Jammu explaining how they have impacted, and how some of them could have been done differently. The friend has left the material world, but he will always remain with me. It will be hard for me to forget the hospitality I received from him, in Srinagar.

His demise has reminded us about a serious rethink over health issues among journalists we often ignore. My friend and former colleague, Javed Ahmed of from Rising Kashmir also lost his life to a heart attack.

The Press Club of Jammu and Press Club of Kashmir should take a lead in ensuring frequent health checkup of the journalists. The health reralted issues of the journalist should receive serious attention from the government, and from the organisations they are working with. Those who lead this institution, together with the relevant departments in the government should address this issue seriously.

It should not become a ceremonial function for showcase, but it should be the responsibility of our representatives. The monitoring of health issues of journalists is as important as saving one’s own family. We write stories for the society, and for their welfare. We never do stories for our self-interest; it is always in public interest. When we try to fill-up the gap between the public and the government, highlight loopholes in policy making, and ensure public is well aware about the welfare schemes, get all benefits, it becomes important for the society and the Govt to come forward to take responsibility and ensure healthcare of the journalist  in J&K .

The journalists, like Muddasir and Javed, are a result of real hard work. The journalists should be treated as an asset by the society as well as by the Government. They are not a burden on the society, but are torch bearers who show the path; unfortunately they ignore themselves all this while. The system also doesn’t think about this grave issue.

Expressing condolence is an easy task, but caring for the families left behind is a serious task. We should all come together and make journalism a proud institution in Jammu and Kashmir. But this can not be done without being concerned about the needs of those eho who are associated with this institution. Journalists start their day with the sun rising, and work till midnight. They are always on toes, and  work without any complaint. They search for stories, the stories that reflect people’s lives. But there own lives are put to serious threats.

“I am shocked to hear about his demise Muddasir. Journalists are whistleblowers, who work in conflict ridden areas in J&K, but there is no welfare scheme for them like the rest of the country. I met Muddasir in the Legislative Assembly of erstwhile J&K State,” remembers senior journalist Ravi Krishan Khajuria, who works with Hindustan Times from Jammu.

Similarly, Mohit Kandhari, journalist from Jammu with The Pioneer, wrote on Facebook: “Muddasir Ali, a very down to earth and grounded reporter. Used to meet him during the budget session of the assembly. He was very efficient at work. Used to file a number of copies from the media gallery itself. Came to know, he died because of fat embolism. He had recently suffered a fracture in leg. Farewell friend.”

Another colleague journalist from Jammu, Arteev Sharma, expressed his shock over the sudden demise of Muddasir Ali. “One colleague of ours was in hospital at Naryana and another senior colleague was unwell,” Sharma told me in the morning while expressing shock over health issues of journalists