The voice of the valley!

Shaida Sahib was bed ridden for quite some time. Many a time I thought of meeting him to enquire about his health, but the prevalent pandemic did not allow a visit to his residence. Few months back I dialled his number, but it was switched off. I was not enough fortunate to meet this legend during the last days of his life.

Ghulam Nabi Shaida was the Chief Editor of Urdu Daily, Wadi Ki Awaz. This is how he is known by the masses.  But those who had have a chance to sit with him, and read his personality, know that he was much more than that. Any stranger, while meeting Ghulam Nabi Shaida would feel naturally secure as Shaida Sahib was habitual of asking the wellbeing, followed by an introduction from every person who used to visit him at his office or meet him elsewhere. As a journalist he was super-senior and had the privilege to be the president of the then fraternity of journalists – probably named as Kashmir Press Association. Many high profile journalists, editors and writers worked in his office, under his guidance and mentorship, and thankfully all of them have high regards for this legend.

Wadi Ki Awaz was once the most famous and favorite newspaper of the readers. It was only because of the efforts of Shaida Sahib, and his team, who followed a professional and honest journalism. Once Shaida Sahib narrated us how Wadi Ki Awaz became the attraction for readers; when it published the story of an egg found in Razwen village of Budgam having some religious writing inscribed on it…..he would narrate similar other interesting incidents.

Ghulam Nabi Shaida was the founder of Shama Foundation, a women’s welfare organization. It had been named after Shama Zaidee, late wife of Shaida Sahib. Shama Foundation was one of the prestigious welfare organto izations in Jammu and Kashmir, contributing mainly in the cause of the destitute women, and conducting seminars on women issues. Shaida Sahib was deeply associated with the activities of the Foundation despite being busy in his profession and having the of resources as well. He would leave no beneficiary disappointed, instead, would treat him as if a family member had approached for the help.

I remember once, when a seminar on women’s issues was conducted in the College of Education Srinagar, outside there was a hoarding with a woman’s image that somehow contradicted the contents that were discussed inside. After a few days an article of mine appeared in the Urdu Daily Kashmir Uzma, which was focused on the seminar and the hoarding in question. Later, when I met Shaida Sahib, his first sentence was, “ Band Kamroom mein seminar, aur bahar tamashe” . Indeed, he had taken the feedback very seriously and discussed the matter with me. I felt ashamed that I should not have written in such a critical way.

Shaida was a saintly figure in all spheres. In his profession he never compromised and called a spade a spade. For this he happened to bear the brunt of the times, as he revealed himself.  As a social activist he preferred retainment, but he was the connoisseur of the deserted-garden, and as a human being he was a noble soul, kind person, and a visionary man.

Words fail me to describe him for I can’t do justice in paying tribute to a person like Shada. The news of his death was a hard blow. Though ailing and bed ridden, the existence of such great people is always a source of inner solace. When they leave, as if it creates a spiritual vacuum.

With tearful eyes we say goodbye to you, Shaida Sahib! May Allah grant highest place in paradise to you, and patience to the family and friends.