We are all bereaved. We are in grief. We have lost someone—who wasn't just an ordinary man but voice to many, voice of voiceless. Muddasir Ali, who dotted Kashmir's journalism for nearly two decades, left us so soon. People—who knew him closely are devastated and in deep shock and those who didn't know him personally, his body of work was enough to make them wail on his passing away. How can we have lost someone so energetic, so dedicated and such a promising journalist so soon.
We all kept asking and pondering. But then it is Almighty's wish. He assigned him the final assignment. On November, 20, 2020, Kashmir lost its reporting star. Someone who would go deep into the details and find out the real story.
He had a knack of asking toughest questions to the people—who were at the helm of affairs, who matter in policy making. He would speak less, but he would create a news cycle of sorts by his promising and cutting-edge journalism.
My initial introduction with Muddasir Ali was because of his work. In 2008, when I joined Media Education Research Centre (MERC), University of Kashmir, we, as aspiring journalists, were asked to begin content analysis of a few local newspapers, including Greater Kashmir, where Muddasir was working. Every day, we would read stories, his by-lines. So, this kept going on for a particular period in one semester.
Muddasir's body of work kept us glued to the track of reporting Kashmir and its various affairs. In 2009, I joined BBC's Srinagar office as a trainee reporter—mostly covering stories for Radio. One of my teachers advised me to work in any print organization for having a better understanding about news, news writing and knowing the pulse of the Kashmir affairs. After some time, founding editor, Rising Kashmir, Shujaat Bukhari, along with his colleagues came to MERC, to offer an internship programme to some five journalism students.
So I opted for it. While I started working with the newspaper as a trainee reporter, there was no plan—how I was supposed to go back to my native place—working late hours at the office. I would leave the office, walk a few miles, take lifts, and reach home after this adventure. Calling it sheer luck, one evening, a colleague of mine, after noticing my ordeal, offered me that I could avail their rented accommodation at the Jawahar Nagar for some time. I immediately nodded. While we were moving to Jawahar Nagar, I bumped into Muddasir Ali. We exchanged greetings and he smilingly went into the kitchen.
We ended up spending a few years together at this place, our second home. Muddasir Ali became Muddi Bhai to me. He kept mentoring and guiding me and many more like me all along this period. While he would file his stories, he would always look for the background, for that he would always call his senior colleagues and senior journalist friends and have an idea about the events, as he covered Kashmir's political affairs very closely and meticulously.
This association went on and our bond grew stronger. Muddasir not only wrote the stories from his comfort zones and cosy room. He would often walk miles, travel faraway places and do people-centric journalism. Not only this, Muddasir had a deeper understanding about administration, government affairs and power sector in Jammu and Kashmir.
It was his campaign based journalism in Greater Kashmir that sometimes governments had to revoke orders and allow people to avail benefits. He was one of the rare faces in journalism, in Kashmir, who would understand the administrative affairs and know how to report it for people at large. His body of work really speaks for Muddi. The owners and other organizations would crave to have Muddasir as a team member and avail benefits from his barrage of exclusive reports.
Last few months at Greater Kashmir's newsroom, where I worked with him, Muddi and I would sit for hours and share a lot. Here I luckily got to work closely with him and learn more from his noble smiling soul. He would always make sure that you are heard. He would always speak for you, when others chose to remain silent.
He would make sure you stand rectified. He would very humbly teach you the nuances of reporting as well as the copy-editing. Few days before he met with a minor accident while travelling to Chrrar-e-Sharief, his native place. I asked him to stop riding the bike. He replied "Hey Boss, teer (chill) doesn't affect me. It is fun to travel alone and explore. I am used to it now." Muddi would leave office at 11 pm on his bike and cover over 31 kms on a motorcycle to reach home in harsh winters, and next day take the 31-km ride back to work at 10 am.
Our last conversation was about life and the struggles of life. I have lost a friend, a brother, a mentor, and an affectionate colleague—who was a powerhouse of journalism in Kashmir. However, sadly, nearly two decades of an active journalism career never gave him rest.
Muddi Bhai was always working, always on the g – working, thinking and overthinking. You have now met your last deadline and your final journey has begun. May Allah (SWT) give you the highest place in Jannah, mu Muddi Bhai.
Today when I entered the newsroom, few of my colleagues sitting silent in sombre mood, I saw the desk next to me deserted, but the essence of Muddasir all around. I looked around and Muddi Bhai was smiling on the front page of Greater Kashmir, hung opposite to his desk. We all owe him a lot. Kashmir owes you a lot Mudi Bhai.