When Gowhar saved a snake, saying ‘we have no right to take anyone’s life’

It was a normal day. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was schedule to visit my homeland Kashmir and we were caged; unprecedented restrictions had been imposed in the region and ban of mobile internet was enforced. Nothing of this surprises us anymore.

Heavy cloud cover seemed to have colored the day well as we stayed indoors fighting cold and anxious about what would be transpired in the day.

Post afternoon, the ban on internet was lifted and I logged on to my Facebook account to check with my friends what they were upto. Late in the afternoon, the news about protest escalating in Zainakote against Modi’s visit did rounds on a social networking websites and I immediately recalled my friend Gowhar Nazir Dar.

It never occurred to me to call him and enquire. I presumed confidently that he would have stayed indoors the whole day — probably dedicating a few hours to study and would have watched television for some time.

At dusk, I went to offer prayers at a nearby Mosque and by the time I returned, news media had announced Gowhar’s death.

Gowhar Nazir Dar

I became numb, a part of me refused to believe even after seeing the picture of his body. The picture captured inside an operation theatre showed doctors trying to save his life and my mind suddenly shifted to an incident in our college.

Last year, as we were sitting together in the college grounds a noise caught our attention. We saw groups of boys and girls pacing towards a part of the campus where thickets (a dense group of bushes or trees) grow. We both rushed to the spot and found some boys holding sticks and trying to kill a snake. Our college is surrounded by a place where appearance of snakes was not uncommon.

As students tried to kill the snake, I saw another facet of the human side in my friend Gowhar. He shouted at the boys and asked them to stop attacking the snake and quickly took over a stick from one of them. I remember his dexterity. He slowly, but with great care, picked up the snake and marched towards the thickets while others followed. He then pushed the snake into the thickets and ensured that it was unharmed.

That day, I experienced the human side of my friend for which he was popular in our college. The incident taught me that there was nothing more valuable than life, be it a dangerous snake.

My friend would tell me on way back from the spot, ‘We have no right to take anyone’s life’. Alas! Those who killed him mercilessly never had a friend like him to teach them this greatest lesson of life.

May he rest in heaven! Ameen.

(The writer – Peer Suhail – is an engineering student at SSM College of Engineering and Technology, and was the batch-mate of deceased Gowhar Nazir Dar, who was killed after a teargas shell, fired by paramilitary forces, hit him on November 7. According to Suhail, they were friends for last two years.)

The article was first published on Kashmir Dispatch