Updated: June 2, 2019 4:35:06 pm
Holding her creased forehead in her hands, Misra Begum breaks down in a dirge. “Why didn’t he call out to me? We were all waiting for you,” she wails.
Misra has just buried her son, 35-year-old Rouf Ahmad Dar, an ‘assistant guide’ who drowned in the Lidder river while ensuring that the tourists in his raft were safe. A few paces away sits Dar’s young bride, in shock, not saying a word to the women surrounding her.
Dar had been running a camping and adventure sports company, set up by his father, for eight years, and was the sole breadwinner of his family. Younger brother Bashaarat says that on Friday some tourists called him saying they wanted to try rafting on the Lidder before leaving the next day. “He had almost shut shop for the day when they convinced him to take them rafting. It was close to iftaar but he relented.”
According to Dar’s family, the incident occurred at approximately 6:30 pm. “We heard that the raft flipped and all the passengers fell into the water. Rouf helped everyone aboard but his life jacket was pulled away by the water and he slipped and got caught in the current,” says Dar’s cousin Imtiyaz Dar.
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His body was found 12 hours later, roughly 7 km from where the raft had flipped, by rescue teams of the J&K Police and SDRF.
The family says Dar wanted to study further and find a permanent job, and was pursuing a Master’s in Political Science from IGNOU. “The tourist season is barely four months and after several bad years, this one too has been bad for business since the Pulwama attack,” points out Imtiyaz, who also runs a small rafting agency.
The Governor’s administration has announced compensation of Rs 5 lakh for Dar’s family. Both the National Conference and PDP hailed the bravery Dar had shown.
Former chief minister Omar Abdullah called his sacrifice “heroic”, saying, “Rouf is a real hero, I take this opportunity to salute his valour and bravery.” The PDP offered its condolences to the family.
Dar’s uncle described him as a brave and kind man, who always put others’ needs before himself, but wishes he had said no to the group that hired him on Friday evening. More than medals or monetary compensation, the family hopes the government can help his younger brother find employment. As Misra wails, Bashaarat points out, “I will not be able to take up my brother’s work.”
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